Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Powerade Jam Fest: Can I Go Home, Already?

(Due to tonight’s broadcast of the Powerade Jamfest on ESPN2, I’m not naming players in my synopsis of the night below. I wouldn’t want to spoil the spectacle for you...)

Powerade took three hours of my life last night, and I want them back.

After weeks of anticipation, last night I headed down to the U.S. Cellular Arena to meet up with my buddies Dez and Ferd to watch the Powerade Jamfest, the prelude to the McDonald’s All-American game, and where the nation’s top high school players go to shoot and dunk all night. My anticipation quickly turned to boredom, though, as the event dragged on to the point that it ended with me looking at my friends after the last dunk and wondering aloud “Are we allowed to go now?” You might have fun watching things on ESPN tonight in a tightly edited one-hour package, but here’s what you won’t have to sit through:

1) An elongated video (with nearly inaudible sound) of past McDonald’s All-Americans talking about the importance of the game, and the great things done by the Ronald McDonald House.

2) Introductions and brief biographies of all 48 male and female All-Americans.

3) A performance by the Milwaukee King cheerleading squad.

4) An poorly conceived, impromptu mascot/military representative/crowd three point contest organized by Ronald McDonald.

5) Not one, but two performances by “Grammy Award-winning artist” Ne-Yo.

6) A performance by a gigantic inflatable Bango Buck, mascot of the Milwaukee Bucks.

7) The presentation of awards to winners of each actual event, with no audio to hear the interviews with the winners.

8) A small child dunking on a mini-hoop after jumping off a mini-trampoline. (I’m told that this was actually pretty entertaining, though I had taken a break to buy a soft pretzel at this point in time.)

9) Introductions and biographies of each of the eight dunk judges.

10) The tossing of Powerade promotional t-shirts and other items to the crowd every 15-20 minutes.

11) A breakdance team.

So yeah, it was a long, awful night. As I left the arena with my friends, I actually apologized to them for suggesting that we attend this thing. If you check out the broadcast of the event on ESPN2 tonight, here are some other lowlights to look for:

–Ever seen anyone go 0-25 in a three-point competition? One of the competitors in the girls’ competition does just that.

–Don’t expect to see both halves of the court used. It would have made too much sense to cut the time of the three-point competition in half by doubling up shooters during each minute of competition, or to give the 48 players warming up more than one basket to shoot at. I thought I was looking at a mosh pit when I walked in on warm-ups last night.

–Check out Sky Guy, the mascot for the Chicago Sky of the WNBA who made an appearance last night and is one of the most ridiculous mascots that I’ve ever seen. Sky Guy can best be described as a character who is 1/3 Mighty Morphin Power Ranger, 1/3 Duff Man, and 1/3 that guy at your gym who only works out his upper-body.

–If there are crowd shots, watch the excitement level over promotional t-shirts and other items drop as the night goes on and the arena become over-saturated with things that have been thrown into the crowd. I actually saw a few people get hit in the head by t-shirts last night because the crowd was so disaffected by the 20th round of “Here come the t-shirts!”

–Expect to be disappointed by the dunk contest. The winner’s actually pretty impressive in the finals, but the failure of the rules to allow for anyone to miss a dunk in the first round leads to some of the best competitors eliminating themselves early on for blowing a dunk (including the guy who throws down the best dunk of the first round). Because, you know, we wouldn’t want anyone trying anything too dazzling in a dunk contest.

So if you watch, enjoy the show tonight. I suspect that it will a be a lot more fun when it’s edited down to an hour. I won’t be checking it out, though. Powerade already stole three hours from me last night.


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