Thursday, April 17, 2014

Inside Sunday

One thing I have wanted to see for years is a more comprehensive look at what goes on during a match--especially an important match--a Sunday semi-final or finals match--from outside the field of play. In the pits. Among the referees. Eavesdropping on the spectators straining at the ropes that keep them off the netting. Up in the booth where stats are collected and the Champions field scorekeeper operates. One thing I discovered first hand in Dallas is that (doh!) everyone sees it differently but that a thread of tension, the drama of the moment, ties everyone together too. And the best way to communicate the game to people isn't by showing them the action on the field--it's by telling them the story of the game. What are the stakes? Who are the teams? What are the players like? And then try to capture the energy that runs like electrical current through everyone involved. It is, mostly, an untold story.
The teams and players are strung tighter than piano wire and deal with the tension in a host of different ways. Oddly when you're in the middle of it, a part of it, you're less aware than you are as an immediate observer. Everyone tries to stay calm. Stay busy. Follow personal rituals. Act on superstitious habit. Time either passes more slowly or it disappears in an instant. It infects the staff and crew too. There's quiet conversation, forced laughter and outbursts of frustration and anxiety. The routines of preparing to play provide order and continuity. The excitement builds as the game start ticks down. Invisible it crackles in the air and pounds in your chest like an amplified heartbeat. It touches the referees too. It is the pinnacle of every event. The culmination of weeks of preparation and competition. The ultimate high or the ultimate low awaits. Regardless of the weather an emotional storm swirls and buffets everyone present. It is the difference between watching the match and experiencing it.  


Patrick Smith said...

Guest post by Matty Marshal? That seemed a bit more fluff than your normal tone.

Very nice none the less. Really captures the vibe of finals.

Missy Q said...

Nice flowery word-song brah.

Look at you now, enjoying the intangibles! Seems like just a few years ago that you would have just blah, blah, poke, prod, etc, etc....

dw said...

Baca. . . waxing poetic AND spot on.

Baca Loco said...

More like a few months ago. :) Not that I was ever oblivious but in the moment nothing matters but winning. (And yes we could discuss how healthy that attitude is too.)

Nick Brockdorff said...

Another reason paintball is such a great sport.

Few other sports have that kind of mental build up.

The one thing I miss most from before race-to, it that every game was just that, one game - no do overs, no second chances.

The mental build up was even bigger then.

Anonymous said...

Ya, but Nick the "hurry up and wait" pre-game was terrible. I suppose in a way it allowed some worse teams to beat better teams who just got mentally laze sitting around in the sun/shade for hours, but it didn't feel much like a sport.

As far as paintball sonnets, let's see Baca do it in iambic pentameter as well all know he's holding out on us.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Oh, I agree there were a lot of drawbacks, and I think race-to is better for the sport - it most definitely makes it a better spectator sport :)

But, as a player, the intensity was just higher, when you knew you just had that one shot at winning..... instead of "upto 13 games not counting no-scores" :)