Thursday, February 28, 2008

Why the Powerade Jamfest Is Better Than the McDonald's Game

If you haven’t seen the barrage of advertisements lately, the McDonald’s All-American game is coming to Milwaukee next month. I’ve been a fan of the McDonald’s game for ages, and it’s exciting to have it come to my fair city. However, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to go to the game. I am sure, though, that I’m going to see the accompanying Powerade Jamfest (I’m ordering my tickets today), where the players from the game get together for a dunk competition and shooting competitions. Here’s four reasons why the Jamfest is sure to be the superior event, as it has been since its inception:

1) Price. After those ridiculous fees from Ticketmaster, a ticket to the Jamfest is roughly $24. And that goes for all seats. That same $24 will get you into the McDonald’s game, but seeing as it’s the lowest priced ticket for the game, you’d better be ready to sit behind a basket and bump your head into the concrete wall behind you, because you’ll be in the worst seats in the Bradley Center. You know, the ones that only fill up those 2-3 times each year when Marquette announces that they’ve got the largest crowd ever to watch a live basketball game in the state of Wisconsin.

2) Venue. The Jamfest is at the U.S. Cellular Arena, while the McDonald’s game is at the Bradley Center. I’ll grant you that the Bradley Center is more comfortable, has vastly superior concessions and bathrooms, and is the only venue in Milwaukee appropriate for an event the size of the McDonald’s game. But the U.S. Cellular Arena is more intimate, offers a pretty good view of the action even from the cheap seats, and assuming you’re not a UWM fan, it’s quite possible that you’ve not been there to see basketball since 1987. And if the disappointing move of the high school boys’ state tournament from the Wisconsin Fieldhouse to the Kohl Center shows, it’s always more fun to watch high school kids in the old, more charming venue.

3) It’s More Honest. It bothers me at times to listen to those people out there who talk about how they’d never watch the McDonald’s game because it’s not real basketball. After all, who said that every second of hoops that you watch has to be played by a bunch of guys who look like John Wooden is coaching their every move? Sometimes it’s fun to relax and enjoy a crazy exhibition. All that said, if everyone’s being honest with themselves, we all know that players in the McDonald’s game are basically just there to dunk a lot and show off their skills. And while doing that in the structure of a game is still cool, that game structure can be limiting. That’s where the Jamfest comes in. Want to do a dunk that would normally get you called for traveling, or perhaps jump over a ball rack? Feel free at the Jamfest. Want to hoist 25 consecutive three pointers? Go right ahead–your teammates can’t get mad at you in this setting.

4) Amazing Dunks. This one doesn’t really deal with why the Jamfest is better than the game, but I’m including it anyway because I feel it’s the greatest strength of the event. With rare exceptions, I typically find the high school dunk contest to be much more entertaining than the NBA contest. With NBA superstars largely unwilling to participate these days, we get unknown guys like some character named “Jamario Moon” throwing down on NBA all-star weekend. I’ll take hungry high school superstars over NBA leftovers any day. You’re guaranteed to see some elaborately crafted dunks at the Jamfest. NBA players may be more athletic, but I ask you–who’s more creative than 17-year-olds? When the mental energy usually spent on unique ways to toilet paper friends’ lawns and sneaking contraband past parents is harnessed and used simply to come up with dunks, we see amazing things.

So in a nutshell, that’s why I’m so much higher on the Jamfest than the actual game.

As for tonight, it might be the most jam-packed basketball night of the year so far. I’ll be starting things off with a trip down to the McGuire Center for the start of high school sectionals. Tonight features three of the top ten teams in the state (or if you believe the Journal Sentinel Rankings, which I don’t, four of the top six teams in the state), and the rare chance to see Milwaukee King and Milwaukee Washington square off without jumping through the usual hoops to gain clearance to see a City Conference game. My night will close out with me cursing myself for not going to bed as I return home to take in the Wisconsin-Michigan State game that my DVR is nice enough to be recording for me tonight. That assumes, of course, that I can avoid hearing a Badger score amongst an arena of a couple thousand basketball fans, which is always a shaky proposition. Either way, it is readily apparent to me that March is almost here!


At 12:41 PM, Blogger Dave said...

Just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your blog. Good writing + great subject matter + passion = a must read.

Dave Wanninger


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