A Fistful of Keychains

Getting a free gift at the stadium giveaway is pretty much akin to getting a free gift anywhere in life that does not involve sitting around a Christmas tree, birthday cake or a dancing one-eyed snake-talker speaking in tongues — it’s a crapshoot.

Sometimes they can be fun. I once got a handy Minnesota Twins decaled spatula that I still use cooking burgers and warding off intruders. Other times they can be useless. I shudder to think of the volume of waste caused by one-off five-cent key chains, ten-cent plastic noisemakers and free DVD copies of “City Slickers 2.” You want to stop climate change? Stop wasting natural resources on Richard Nixon key chains (I am not a hook … for your keys).

However, whatever gift an athletic department, baseball team or cult rally decide to give their massive hysterical crowds, they must be mindful of whether or not it can be turned into a weapon.

The following is a true story. My freshman year, spring 2010 (when Jersey Shore was still a thing), the Bobcat men’s basketball team were playing the Grizzlies at the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse. The Cats had successfully kept the Griz at arm’s length through the game. Midway through the second half during a timeout, the cheer squad ran out and tossed miniature Wendy’s decaled basketballs to all of the excitable, temperamental and perhaps drunken college students. Guess what happened? Immediately some balls began to rain down on the Grizzlies players and coaches. The crowd was assessed a technical foul, which gave the Grizzlies two free throws. The Cats luckily won the game, though they haven’t beaten the Griz since.

But other than the occasional disco demolition debacle or ten cent beer night fiasco, most giveaways are usually of harmless, insignificant items that more often than not find themselves in the trash. Sometimes promoters might stretch the reasons for such giveaways.

“Folks, in honor of our thirty-eighth home game, the first 40,000 fans will receive complimentary bobbleheads of Gerald Ford, our 38th president.”

“Folks, to acknowledge the color of our blue sky, the middle 20,000 and next to last 3,000 fans will receive sky blue right-footed socks.”

“Folks, as your Bobcats attempt to soften the opposing team’s defense, be sure to soften your defense with free tubes of Champ’s Stool Softener available to the first 7,863.5 fans.”

However, if the Bobcats want to increase student attendance, perhaps the following promotion might do the trick.

“Students, the first 10,000 students will receive free STD screenings and complementary contraceptives! Cover your equipment today!”