R.I.P. to the midweek Businessperson’s Special. Hello to Summer Camp Funday at the ballpark.
Remember back when the Mellon Bank Midweek Businessperson’s Specials lined the Phillies schedule a handful of times each season. Of course, that later became the Citizen’s Bank sponsored special among other companies and financial institutions.
An office worker could schedule a relaxing day at the ballpark during the spring or summer months. People could unwind at a Phillies game and use it as an opportunity to network with others in the same field or close that important deal among members of Phillies Nation.
At the same time, the event gave others the opportunity to enjoy something that prime time television has killed over the last couple of decades — day baseball. Really, there’s nothing like walking into the ballpark around noon, smelling the aroma of bad ballpark franks, spilled beer, Cracker Jacks and the local smells of South Philly. Sounds such as the crack of the bat and the pop of the ball meeting a glove were heard as a light breeze sometimes swirled around the stadium to make an otherwise scorching day somewhat bearable during the height of the daytime sun.
It was baseball during the day. It was summer. It was perfect. Sadly, those days are rare anymore, even in place such as Wrigley Field.
While that experience can still be had as the Phillies manage to scatter some midweek day games into the schedule each year, the actual “businessperson’s” part is dead. Meet the day designed for Summer Camps to bring a bunch of kids supervised by kids to the ballpark. While good in theory, the atmosphere just gets ruined.
On Wednesday, July 25, the Phillies sponsored Run the Bases Day during a midweek day game. Adults took the day as an opportunity to bond with their young children and teach them the finer points of the game and how to be a fan of the game. Of course, kids had the opportunity to circle the bases on a Big League field, something they will carry with them for life. Days like this present the moments that create fans of baseball, and the Phillies, for life.
Days like this also bring out another element — Summer Camps. Glancing around the upper decks of Citizens bank park on Wednesday you could clearly see the number of these camps who purchased group tickets for the day. Wearing your camp’s shirt to advertise for the organization must be a requirement. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, white, neon green and other colors infiltrated entire sections of CBP. This was not a sea of red. This was not Red October.
Summer camps invading the ballpark for an afternoon of baseball with an eye on running the bases after the game makes sense. However, not one group stayed to do so. In fact, 80 percent had evacuated the stadium to board their buses home before the end of the ninth inning.
Yep, they left early during a tie game and didn’t see a fourth straight epic come-from-behind victory. They missed a tenth inning win that started with a 6-5 deficit entering the bottom of the tenth. Wasn’t Summer Camp supposed to teach kids life lessons as well? Isn’t that why workers are called “camp counselors?” Teaching kids to leave games early is horrific. Remember the line above about creating fans for life?
If a 7 or 8-year-old experiences the energy of a crowd during a walkoff win, that memory stays with him for life. It just does. You are a fan for days and games like that. You live and die with a team, bite fingernails and dream of parades for days like Wednesday.
In addition to the excitement of a walkoff win, you can also teach kids how to cheer. You have a duty to teach them correct and incorrect cheering. You have a duty to teach them that a baseball game is not an amusement park, a movie theatre or a dance club.
The wave might be the single most annoying thing at a baseball game. The only thing worse is seeing the dreaded wave at an NFL game (hello Tennessee Titans fans). Anyway, camp counselors telling the kiddies to do the wave in the top of the second inning? Really?
Then, you have the kids learning that being a fan at a game is not about whether your team wins; it’s about how much caloric intake you can register in an afternoon. Get up during play every other inning to go get something else to stuff your sticky faces with during the day.
From chocolate ice cream running down a kid’s sweaty face and down the cone onto their sticky fingers, to cotton candy to popcorn, the vendors made out like bandits. Really, though, getting up and going to the vendors 20 times a game is not being a fan of the game. You’re simply teaching kids how to enhance the obesity epidemic in America, not to mention the fact that a recession means you spend a crazy amount of money and miss the game. Oh, and you interrupt the view of others near you. You know, they have an app for that now!
Oh, and the kids just make a mess anyway. One camp director decided it was appropriate to address some kids by standing in front of them in the row in front of your Daily Philadelphian during play. Yep, interrupted my view instead of pulling the kid into the aisle or concourse. As she walked in the row, she stopped and said “and I do not want to step in ice cream.” Well, don’t take the kids to the vendors every other pitch.
Instead, use the game as a teaching opportunity on how to act at a game, how to be a fan and a courteous fan at that. Philly fans get a bad reputation for the dumbest things. Camp counselors have a chance to change that by teaching them the way to act socially responsible in the stands.
In addition to the wave, the camp counselors in this one certain section decided to teach kids that “make noise” means to act like you’re on a roller coaster at Morey’s Piers in Wildwood. Ummm, no. When the team puts the phrase “make noise” on the huge HDTV scoreboard, you are expected to chant “Let’s go Phillies” with the sounds being pumped through the stadium. Having a group of 50 kids just screaming for the sake of screaming is annoying and, quite frankly, not how to cheer at a sporting event.
Another opportunity to teach kids how to be a good fan of the game is wasted.
And, if you were at the game with a business associate trying to socialize and maybe close that deal, forget about it. If you took your kid to teach him about the finer points of the game and how to appreciate the sport, forget about that, too.
Sure, they are kids and it’s about having fun. However, can’t you have fun and learn how to be a fan Philly can be proud of at the same time? If you want to treat this as a day at the waterpark, then go to one. If you want to treat this as going to the concessions at a movie theatre, go there. If you want to go to a sporting event and let kids be kids, go to a minor league game.
Or, at least stay and run the bases after the game. Then your presence is logical. Otherwise, let fans of the game have their gameday experience.
Yes, summer camps killed the midweek, midday businessperson’s special.