Free Pizza

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It’s not exactly breaking news that food is at a ridiculous premium at sporting events.
For six or seven hard earned American dollars, you might be able to afford a hot dog
or some stale chips and lukewarm cheese dispensed from a pump1. You’re
going to have to fork out double digits to break into the upper echelon of stadium fare,
and even then you’re looking at a non-inspiring cheeseburger or a passable sausage.
So any time you can get your grubby paws on free food at the game, you should go out
of your way to do it.

The wisdom of this notion is not lost on the fine folks in the marketing department at
Oracle Arena. In the middle of the second quarter, when there is a bit of a lull in the
energy at the arena, a certain music kicks in. Much like Pavlov’s dogs, the regulars at
Oracle start to drool with anticipation.

Like a bolt of delicious lightning, a long-haired, clown-like leads the hype crew to center
court irresponsibly waving a pizza box in each hand. These are not empty cardboard
boxes that represent a redemption token for a free pizza. Rather, they are boxes filled
with hot, fresh pizza pie shaken around to perfection and ready for consumption as
soon as they are handed to the lucky members of the crowd.

The five person hype crew each grabs a box or two and makes their way to different
sections of the stadium. All the while, they are blatantly disregarding the preferred
horizontal state of the pizza box by waving them over their heads willy-nilly. But, in their
eternal quest for free food, the crowd overlooks this gross pizza mismanagement and
starts behaving ludicrously for a chance at the pie.

Anyone in a section near a member of the hype crew is immediately on their feet,
jumping, screaming, waving their arms frantically, anything to beckon the pizza their
way. The hype crew teases the crowd, pitting opposing sections against each other by
offering the pizza to the section who produces the most noise. Former friends, each
cheering for the same home team, become instant enemies and general chaos ensues2.

The sections battle back and forth for as long as the timeout allows until the crew
member finally and mercifully selects the winning audience member. This winner
graciously accepts their prize with overwhelming delight as all the other contenders let
out a collective disappointed sigh.

But, halftime is just around the corner. Oracle’s marketing team has done it again as the
entire crowd now realizes how much they want, or need, a rejuvenating snack. A free
one would have been great, possibly the best thing that’s ever happened to that person,
but they’ll have to wait for the next game.

1. As a general rule, I stay away from any cheese that comes from a pump or can.
You’d be wise to follow a similar rule.
2. To get a sense of the scene, imagine tossing bloody chum into an aquarium of
piranhas. It’s a feeding frenzy.


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