Tuesday, April 08, 2008

When good pubicity goes bad

My time in Tampa is coming to and end. I'll be up, up and away shortly and there's still so much to touch on about this year's Final Four. Most notable is tonight's championship game.

Walking through Tampa International Airport this morning I noticed a few more signs welcoming fans into the airport's shops. What stood out was a conversation I had with a Tampa resident.

He mentioned a story in Tampa Tribune on Saturday, I believe, that called the Final Four the "Lesbian Super Bowl." Maybe this is a topic too hot for certain readers of this blog, and I understand this. That said, I'm going to touch on the subject.

The local I spoke to mentioned how the airport has had a "different feel" these last few days, he added that it felt like a convention. Well, any major sporting event does have that convention feel. Any time thousands converge upon a location for a singular purpose, there tends to be the same atmosphere. He also suggested the games be promoted as such so that others can know what to expect.

I can tell you what to expect: people who love basketball.

In the story mentioned, the NCAA refused to comment on the notion that the Final Four is the "Lesbian Super Bowl." I can't say I blame them, but not for the reason some of you might think.

By going along with the reporter's premise, the NCAA would be saying its women's basketball Final Four is a gay event and runs the risk of making its non gay fans feel like outsiders. You also have difficulty marketing the event in places where there is less tolerance.

Imagine playing the Final Four in Charlotte, N.C., and instead of focusing on the basketball the NCAA decides it wants to treat the weekend as a gay getaway? How many non gay fans atend? You can't do that to either the gay fans or the non gay fans. That's not fair. Nor can you do that to your games and suddenly make the FInal Four about the people attending and not about the basketball.

Sure, there were lesbians at the games. I'm sure there were some at the Super Bowl. That doesn't alter the validity or appeal of the event. At least it shouldn't.

I can't imagine the lesbian community in Tampa or elsewhere want the Final Four logo to be changed to a basketball set to a rainbow flag. Nor do they want an arrow or sign over their heads saying "LESBIAN" in big, bold letters.

The point is, fans are fans. It doesn't matter if the person next to you is of the same color, size, shape, gender or orientation as you. They probably don't like the same team as you. Or maybe they do. Who cares? It's been a weekend of some great basketball and basketball-themed events. That's what matters.

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