SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

New Meaning for the Hoops Term "Gunner"

Thanks to Skip Sauer at Sports Economist for blogging about this program in Philadelphia, which I saw in this morning's paper but forgot to blog about. That fan who you high-five at a game at the Wachovia Center (could it now be called the Whack Center) could be someone who turned in a Saturday Night Special to get his tickets.

I can see the marketing lines now: "Turn in Your Heater to See the Heat." Among other slogans, given that the 76ers' attendance is hovering at around the 15,000 mark (proving that people don't like to provide a sellout to a team mired in the molassess that .500 ball creates), the 76ers are using words like pride and passion. That's all well and good, but the fans like teamwork and winning. They love Mo Cheeks, but they'd like a 60-win season even more.

Sure, there's a social reason to get people to turn in their guns, but suppose kids come to the police station and turn in their water guns or their GI Joe toys, their Grand Theft Auto games or anything that might give them the wrong idea about violence. Should they get tickets too?

And what about the kids who work hard in school and go to the public library branch in the neighborhood (to the extent that many are left) to avoid the risks of the streets? What about the kids who get good grades? If the putative felons get single-game seats, shouldn't the honor students get single-game suites? I would vote for that in a heartbeat.

I don't know enough about Philadelphia's on-the-street problems to determine whether or not this will be an effective program. But I've always had problems not rewarding the good. Years ago, banks gave appliances to new customers who opened up accounts, and magazines still give inducements to new subscribers. But what about some props for those who have been with you for a long time? If we're giving the felons a bounty, what about the good kids out there who can't afford tickets? I would hope that the 76ers reward those who toe the line and make the best out of tough circumstances more tickets than those who turn in their handguns.

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