Wizards fans stay on their feet, can't sit down

Eric Freeman
March 15, 2011

NBA teams regularly try to institute new promotions and "traditions" to get their fans to cheer. There are the now-common "noise meters" that are obviously pre-planned videos, and loud fan sections like Milwaukee's "Squad 6," and regular product giveaways for the loudest fans in the building.

The Washington Wizards have attempted to get a little more out of their fans, and have therefore asked every fan to stay on their feet until the home team scores. It's a reasonably common practice in college arenas, but as yet a rare site in the NBA.

The problem with this plan is that it can often backfire and just make the fans uncomfortable. Case in point: Monday night's loss to the Thunder, when the Wizards had a little trouble finding a bucket early in the game. From Craig Stouffer for the Washington Examiner:

Beginning with JaVale McGee's(notes) underhanded airball layup, the Wizards barely found the rim with their first four shots (two blocks, two misses), falling into an immediate 8-0 hole and forcing coach Flip Saunders to call a 20-second timeout, which led to an arena-wide groan with 10:11 left in the first quarter, since most of the crowd of 17,921 was still standing. Those who sat down were pleaded with to get back up when the timeout ended.

Nick Young(notes) eventually scored at the 9:57 mark on the team's first play after the timeout, but the fans in D.C. nevertheless were forced to stay on their feet for far longer than expected. Then again, they're also Wizards fans, so maybe they shouldn't have been so surprised to spend several minutes waiting for the team to score.

The lesson here, apart from that the Thunder are much better than the Wizards, is that fans may not take kindly to every single initiative a team tries to bring more passion to the arena. The "stay on your feet until we score" idea sounds great until the team can't get a basket, and then the fans will just feel like they're being forced to stand when they could very easily sit on the Verizon Center's luxurious seats. You don't want fans to resent something that's supposed to be about passion, but that's the risk you run with new "traditions" like this one.

The obvious solution is for the Wizards to just get better at basketball. That shouldn't be tough at all!