Just “People Watchin” at the Final Four

final four back row

The man in the row in front of us could have possibly been dead for all we knew.  His lifeless 30-something body didn’t show much interest in moving when those around him were yelling, shaking, and smacking him.  Slight panic ensued in section 612 of Lucas Oil Stadium.

My 15 year-old son and I made the trip to Indianapolis for this year’s NCAA Final Four hoping to see our Kentucky Wildcats finish off a perfect 40-0 season.  Those hopes were dashed with a semi-final loss to Wisconsin on Saturday night.  Unlike many UK fans, we stuck around for Monday’s final between Duke and Wisconsin.

There may not be a greater place on earth for fathers and sons to bond simply by sharing the wealth of worthless information and basketball history that lives in the streets of a Final Four.  And for this dad, it was an opportunity to squash the image that I’m completely oblivious to my surroundings (because I sort of am).

Unleashing a wealth of basketball history to an interested youngster came easy while walking on the streets of Indy.  Basketball personalities, past and present were everywhere, in real life and on the sides of buildings.

KY Seattle

Perhaps the truest (and most comical) father/son bonding came simply from people watching on the streets.  Walking around different sections of the downtown area on gameday and having conversations about different types of people and all the crazy stuff going on.

The party blocks-so full of beer drinkers getting primed for the game that you can barely walk through- but you walk your son through it all anyway……..this is how you don’t act son.

The “I wanna get on TV” sections.  ESPN, etc setup at various places with people always desperately trying to get on TV.

The ticket peddlers.  NO, JUST BECAUSE I’M WEARING A UK SHIRT, I DON’T HAVE A TICKET TO SELL SINCE WE LOST!!!

The beggars and street performers just trying to capitalize on all the extra foot traffic.

The police officers, patiently dealing with all the drunken geniuses blundering in the streets.

My son was impressed with my ability to spot random people in the crowded streets since I usually can’t find my way back to where we park our car without his help.

“There’s the guys that sat by us at the semi-finals.”

“There’s the guy your uncle sold his tickets to at IHOP.”

“There’s the guys that sat across from us at Cracker Barrel this morning.”

“That was Heshimu Evans.” (played on 1998 UK championship team).

Dad……you, like notice people, don’t you?

Yes.

Back in section 612.  Top level of Lucas Oil Stadium.  Only 2 rows separate us from the very top.

final four court2

During the first half, a commotion to my left draws my attention.  My son, Karrick Ryne and all others to his left have quickly risen to their feet as a lady in front of them, in a panic, is trying in vain to return her adult son to consciousness.  She shakes, smacks, calls his name.  His head falls straight back.  He looks to be in serious trouble.

“Somebody needs to go get someone!”

I hear an older lady say from the row behind me.

Three rows of people are on their feet now, most of them doing the exact thing I was doing…….watching, and waiting to see if someone else was going to do something.

The guy still wasn’t moving.

But Karrick Ryne was.  He left his spot in the center of the row without speaking and pushed past me, flew out of our row, and went down 19 rows, two at a time, disappearing into the concourse looking for assistance.

Shortly after KR went out of sight, the man showed signs of life, opening his eyes, and raising back up in his seat somewhat.  His friends/family gave him water.  He started assuring them he was ok.  Guy was sweating heavily now. I turned to the man sitting beside me and suggested that the man was most likely drunk.  Figured those seated in front of him were in danger of getting puked on before the game was over.

KR returned to his seat, visibly shaken.  I praised him for doing the right thing and acting quickly.  He kept shrugging his shoulders wondering if he’d overreacted (an older gentleman behind us actually placed a 911 call) and wondered if the first aid folks were ever going to come.

KR just kept watching, waiting, and wondering.  This was all new territory for him.  For me, I was just getting irritated at this “sick” man now and his whole group who had failed to at least turn around and acknowledge the fact that my son had sprinted for help because half our section thought he was in serious medical distress.

Two ladies finally appeared at the bottom of our section some 8 minutes later, carrying first aid bags.  Passed out guy and the three people with him pretended to not see them!  They were going to act like nothing happened.  My whole row wasn’t buying it.  We all raised our arms and pointed to say, “right here dude”.  Passed out guy pleaded his case for only a minute before leaving with the EMT’s.  He never returned.

A crisis was started by someone’s poor judgement.  Their problem became the problem of others.  Their subsequent actions showed that they were perfectly willing to be blind to those around them…….the beauty of drunkenness.

In that moment of crisis, when a man was sitting motionless in his seat, it was the adults who were frozen in place.  In the back of our minds, most of us stood watching and hoping someone else would go for help.  But no one did.  Some of us may have had that immediate thought in the back of our minds, “it’s probably self-inflicted, I’m not getting involved.”

The young mind is a clean slate, not poisoned by things we are “certain” of.  Not hindered by watching and analyzing everything to death before acting.  Perhaps these same things poison an adult Christians’ ability to live by faith and not by sight.  When someone cried out, “somebody needs to get somebody”, KR was the only one in our immediate area under the age of 30.  And he’s also the only one that moved.  The rest of us were busy thinking……..and watching.

That’s one way I’m glad he’s not like his dad.  For all the times that he has looked to his dad for a cue for the right thing to do……he looked quickly to me this time and saw that I wasn’t going to do it.  So he did it himself.

Yeah, I’m a people watcher.  I guess it’s a good thing I’m not an EMT.

END NOTE: The first stadium worker that Karrick Ryne approached to tell about an unresponsive person in our section told him to go find somebody else because they were on break.   You can’t make this stuff up.

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