There has been no shortage of reasons to be embarrassed to be a Raptors fan over the 17 years of the franchise’s existence. But there is one constant, recurring incident that never fails to make me feel like I’m rooting for a D-League team, and that is the reaction of fans at the Air Canada Centre when the Raptors break the 100-point mark in a game. You see, any time the Raptors score 100 points at a home game — regardless of whether they’re winning or losing — a distressing number of fans go crazy because they’re able to redeem their tickets for a free slice of cheese or pepperoni pizza at a Canadian restaurant chain.
Any time I attend a game and the Raptors start to approach the 100-point mark, some fans will inevitably start chanting “Pizza! Pizza! Pizza!” and I have to resist throwing toonies at them and yelling, “Here’s your slice! Now shut the hell up!” I know that these are tough economic times for some people, but if you can afford to go to a Raptors game, you can afford a slice of pizza.
Some of you might be thinking: “What kind of a monster criticizes people for celebrating free food?” This guy, that’s who. And I know I’m not alone on this issue. It’s one thing if the Raptors are winning — in that case, enjoy your free slices. Whatever.
But when fans at the Air Canada Centre cheer when the Raptors break 100 while they’re on their way to a crushing loss? That’s when I die a little bit inside. If you watched the end of last night’s loss to the Magic, you saw that it happened again.
It’s even worse when the Raptors are winning and stuck at 98 or 99 points as the clock is running out, because some fans will actually boo if a Raptor doesn’t try to break 100 points instead of dribbling out the clock. It’s one thing to have the rest of the league looking down at our team, do we need to give them a reason to look down on the fans, as well? Take it away, Stan Van Gundy…
“We got a standing ovation for a slice? Oh, they told me they got a free pizza. A slice, you got to sit in your seat and clap. You can’t stand up on a slice, I’m sorry, that’s bad etiquette.”
Stan’s awesome, and he’s right. Unfortunately, we’re not going to get the fans to stop cheering in moments like this because some people simply get excited for any kind of free stuff and nothing is going to change their behavior. That’s why the onus is on Bryan Colangelo to either cancel the promotion or change it so that the fans only get free pizza when the Raptors win. The way it’s set up now, it’s like a tacit admission that there is very little chance of the Raptors winning, so the franchise has to throw the fans a bone — er, slice — so they’ve got something to be happy about when they leave the arena.
I say the franchise and fans together need to have more pride. Between Charles Barkley claiming this team couldn’t beat the Kentucky Wildcats and the rest of the league thinking Raptors fans would rather win a free slice of pizza than win games, it’s harder than ever for me to look people in the eye and admit I root for this team.
Pizzagate update! One of my Score colleagues just tried to get a free slice with his printed-out ticket from last night’s game and was informed by a Pizza Pizza employee that you need to get your printout stamped at the ACC in order to get your slice. This is news to me. The Air Canada Centre, the Raptors and Pizza Pizza haven’t exactly gone out of their way to let us know about this condition, have they?