By Jon Stoudt (by God) on 08:30:40 09/10/10
Last night I was at my nephew’s birthday party. It was at one of those places that has putt-putt, go-carts and an arcade full of videogames. The kids all ran around the arcade while the adults stared at each other in quasi-catatonic states while sipping on stale Bud Light served in tiny plastic cups at room temperature. The boys were chasing the girls around the room with little success. Girls are simply bigger, faster and stronger then boys at that age. “I hope Nathan Williams runs better then that on Saturday,” I thought to myself as I held my breath, grimaced, and gulped down another swig of InBev’s finest.
Having had my fill of listening to the moms discuss car seats and pediatricians, I wandered over to the Pop-A-Shot game. Pop-A-Shot asks its contestants to take a regulation basketball and shoot it through a hoop that has a diameter only about three centimeters wider then the ball. I recalled my days as the champion free throw shooter at the Gary Williams Ohio State Basketball Camp and decided to see if I still had it.
I had considerable success hitting my shots to the sounds of buzzers and the flash of lights that are designed to distract. Such annoyances were insufficient to throw me off my game as I continued to drain shot after shot.
My success apparently piqued the attention of one of the fathers who came over to the game. “Care to make this interesting? I bet you $5 I can hit more shots in a round then you.” I was struck by the audacity of this man, who introduced himself as Ed Watley, as I was clearly on fire. “You’re on,” I responded with a slight chuckle.
Watley fed his money into the machine and the balls began to fall to him in rapid succession. Clearly he had shot his share of basketballs over the course of his life. The sirens whaled as he shot ball after ball. He ended a respectable 9 of 20.
I opened my wallet and retrieved a few crisp ones and inserted them into the machine. The waitress came by and I confidently winked and pointed to my cup indicating I was ready for a refill. I wanted Watley to cogitate over the fact that I was going to pound him while re-hydrating with pissy beer.
I placed my hand on the start button and focused in on the mirrored backboard to reestablish my bearings. Suddenly, I saw something horrible. Something that is, at least to me, terrifying. My sister had hired a party clown.
My fear of clowns is well documented. When I see people with painted faces I don’t think it’s cute and funny. I wonder what they’re hiding from. I want to know why they won’t show themselves. Is it because you don’t want to be identified after you slip a roofie into my beer, drag me to your house and throw me into a well in your basement only to be dressed in a zipper mask and brought out for entertainment when you have clown guests? I suspect so.
Unlike the lights and sirens, the clown had a profound impact on what otherwise was sure to be a Pop-A-Shot beat down. Instead of focusing in on the rim I was obligated to keep an eye on the whereabouts of the clown in order to protect myself and the other patrons from his designs. I finished a meager 3 for 20. I paid the smug Watley his finsky, walked over and hugged my nephew goodbye, told him to stay away from the clown, and headed to my vehicle.
I was in full goose bump over the spectacle of the clown as I sat at a light. “It’s impossible to win that game with a clown around,” I said aloud. And this got me to thinking…
Much has been made this week about the role distraction will play on the upcoming game. Some in Buckeye nation thump their chests that 105,000 screaming Midwesterners will distract and throw Miami off their game. Miami scoffs at 105,000 screaming Midwesterners and responds with the old, “Nothing’s more distracting that a Wayan’s brother.” We fret over the Lebron James distraction. We fret over the distraction that is the angst we feel as a result of Terry Porter's slow reaction in making that fateful holding call in 2002. Fact is, none of these things serve as a distraction to the players. Players are used to the presence of big name celebrities. They are coached by them, interviewed by them, visited by them, and let’s be honest, some of the players ARE them. While crowd noise can create a communications advantage for the home team, they too are used to dealing with this. Stadium size? Not an issue. History, tradition? Nope and nope.
This is not to say that distraction plays no part in sports. Tiger Woods has demonstrated that he finds the publicizing of his divorce, filthy text messages and sometimes unusual choice in women to be distracting. Rocky was distracted by the sudden and unexpected death of Mick at the hands of Clubber Lang. The 2006 Buckeyes were distracted by In-N-Out Burger.
Distraction is the diversion of attention of an individual or group from the chosen object of attention onto the source of distraction. To truly serve as a distraction the subject must be unusual. Unexpected. Something that truly occupies the mind.
Then it occurred to me, I know how can distract Miami and assure ourselves of a decisive victory.
When I was a child attending games in Ohio Stadium with my dad I would often borrow his binoculars and scan the sidelines during timeouts. I began to notice how there are always a few people on the visiting team’s sideline who are wearing OSU shirts. I learned they were ball boys. They looked out of place and seemed to feel awkward, which one would certainly expect. They kept a low profile. Their demeanor was such that it seemed as if they wished they were invisible.
So….what if we went with a different sort of personality to fill that role on the other sideline this week. Someone who, rather than wishing he were invisible, tries to make himself the center of attention. Someone so annoying, grading, obtuse, sometimes scary, sometimes physical, that it’s inconceivable that he wouldn’t be viewed as a distraction. Someone like….oh I don’t know…Buck-I-Guy?
Miami may be used to big crowds and big stadiums. They may be used to B-list celebrities. But no way are they even aware that there exists on the planet a man of Buck-I-Guy’s ilk. Make fun of our jersey wearing adults, our vested elderly, our carnival folk. That’s nothing. Wait till they get a load of Buck-I-Guy.
A cross between Sideshow Bob and balloon boy’s dad, Richard Heene, you have to experience the phenomenon of Buck-I-Guy to truly understand it. And even then it takes days to sort out in your mind what you think you saw.
After slinging a few balls to the ref from the Miami sideline Buck-I-Guy will give Randy Shannon the guns and then run off down the sideline cutting a wide swath through Miami players as he doggedly pursues the nearest camera. Miami's sideline will turn into a mosh pit of distraction as Buck-I-Guy aggressively trolls for camera time.
Contending with Ross Homan, Tyler Moeller and Cam Heyward is difficult. Now imagine doing it with Buck-I-Guy gunning you down for four quarters. Imagine looking over at your coordinator as he signals you the next play, only to see your teammates behind him being thrown around by a narcissistic caped cowboy with a painted on mustache and an insatiable appetite for attention. Imagine the Miami players huddled around Randy Shannon during a time out at a critical juncture in the game. Fully aware all cameras are on the coach, Buck-I-Guy will force his way into the huddle, hand Randy an autographed picture of himself, and then look up and gun down the camera. Nobody that’s not used to it could get over such a spectacle.
Now that’s distraction, right Eduardo?