Seasoned tickets

Our Champions.This morning we received our Sioux Falls Skyforce season tickets.

I’m not sure I’ve been so excited for sports tickets in my life. I’ve seen the Pacers in Minneapolis twice. I received a special bus/ticket package to see the Chicago Bulls during their heyday. I’ve sat rink side to write about a Sioux Falls Stampede game that was filled with brutal fighting and helped extend a team record-winning streak. But this is a new experience. Now I belong. I feel as if I’m part of the team.

Season tickets – especially to a semi-pro, incentive-laden, minor-league-promotion-style NBA Development level team like the Skyforce – are special in and of themselves. They welcome you into an elite club, one that comes with special t-shirts and bragging rights. And even though I was never in danger of being shut out of a game – they rarely sell out, after all – I can still go, knowing I’ll have the same seat. Every game. Regardless of who we’re playing.

Listen, I know that season tickets to the Skyforce are a far cry from Minnesota Vikings or New York Yankees season tickets. But for the price (less than $3 per ticket!) and for the amount of games we go to, this was necessity. I’ve never had a chance to do this – to follow a team for its entirety, from opening day to championship.

My teams are all out of town, strewn across the United States; Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Miami. There’s no way I can follow those teams. But here in town, we’ve got our own brand of local sports, one that is just a degree away from being big time.

And, until this year, I was unable to even support the Skyforce fully. I worked nights. I wasn’t sure what my schedule would be for upcoming games. I couldn’t commit. I couldn’t make the vow; to devote myself to Section M, row 13, seat 1.

Now I can. I mean, this is MY team now. We’ve not only supported them for the last two years, but we’ve now put our money where our mouths are by dedicating ourselves to the team for 24 home games. We are part of the crowd. We’re a group of the “usuals.” Even if it’s small-time, it’s OUR small time.

Regardless of what happens, I’ll be there. When the unbelievable happens, I’ll be there. When the heartbreaking happens, I’ll be there. When the Sioux Falls Skyforce plays like a group of spoiled NBA wannabes, I’ll be there. Just as I’ll be there when they come together and form a cohesive team of truly professional players, each individual part playing for the good of the group and the enjoyment of the fans.

When the game is tipped off, and I’m sitting in my seat – MY seat – watching the game I love, played by players that aren’t being paid millions; that are just happy to be there, working hard and fighting for the chance to make the big time, I’ll hopefully come to the realization that I’m a very lucky person. Because even though the Sioux Falls Skyforce is just an NBA Development League team in one of the smallest NBA Development League cities in the nation, they’re still the team I’ve chosen. They’re MY team. And, for this year at least, no one can take that away.

This was lovingly handwritten on November 17th, 2006