June 25, 2016

Fun While It Lasted

Summer is a difficult time for me to blog about the Wizards. Other than the NBA Draft in June (no picks this year), Summer League in July (not going this year) and the release of the next season's schedule in August, there is precious little for me to write about. So every so often I've saved a blog post for the summer because it appeared that there was relatively little urgency to writing about the chosen subject. This is one of those blog posts. Sometimes those blog posts lack the relevance they would have had if I'd posted them earlier. This is also one of those blog posts.

This past February, Monumental Sports and Entertainment (the group that owns the Wizards, Mystics and Capitals) announced a partnership with FanPics, a company that takes photographs of crowds during sporting events. I know, right? Keep reading. From what I can gather, FanPics installed a series of cameras somewhere near the middle of the arena (I'm assuming on the scoreboard) which at certain times during the game takes a photograph of the entire crowd at Verizon Center for a Wizards or Capitals game. This shutter is apparently operated by a person who is supposed to select certain eventful times in the game when the crowd might be especially energized. I figured this part out because there was a call for applicants posted on the company's site earlier this year.

Once the photographs are taken, they are made immediately available to all fans for free. Their app even has a feature which will email a picture of you based on your seat assignment to you during the game so (I guess) you can re-post to your social media of choice instantly. In case you are catching up here, FanPics somehow made an agreement with the Wizards to install equipment (which presumably costs money) at Verizon Center; they will then pay someone a wage to man their camera system; and the products of their labors are made available absolutely free to anyone. I have to admit I was struggling to understand this business model.

Pretty sure I'm calling a charge here. Although I might be trying to poke Mike in the face.
In early April I finally had some time to check out FanPics so I made an account, punched in my seat location and lo and behold, there I am watching the Wizards over the course of the last couple of months worth of games. Most of the photographs were a little fuzzy but there were some pretty good ones of me watching hoops, which admittedly is about as exciting as watching paint dry. I'm posting the three I consider as the best of the bunch here, which feature me in my John Wall jersey doing some kind of air pull-up; me gesticulating wildly to my right while my friend Mike sits next to me stone-faced; and Mike and I high-fiving.

I thought before I wrote this post I'd go back and pick up the last few games of the season and see if there were any better shots. But when I tried my sign in information, it didn't work. I tried re-setting my password and that didn't work either. So I tried making a new account with a different email address and failed at that too. Puzzled, I thought I might try to contact FanPics with a question so I checked their Facebook page (last post March 10, 2016) and their Twitter feed (last tweet March 18, 2016). After all that, I'm not sure they exist anymore, which totally makes sense since I had no idea how these people would ever make money. Even if they were to sell pictures instead of giving them away, I still couldn't imagine that being worth the investment. Well, it was fun for the month or so that it lasted, right? Maybe they are still around. I've never said I was the best with technology but I'm pretty sure I can make and maintain a FanPics account.

Whether or not FanPics is truly dead I guess doesn't mean much to me either way, but in the photo below, they have done something remarkable. I think they have sort of crystallized my Wizards fandom into a single image. It's a little out of focus, which is both annoying but also somehow perfect at the same time. We're obviously playing the New York Knicks (because I remember the annoying dude behind us in the Carmelo Anthony jersey right up until the time he left early) and Mike and I are super happy about something exciting enough to stand up and high five each other (and I'm assuming it's not Mike getting a new Bud Light).

In the meantime, nobody, and I REALLY mean nobody, is the least bit excited about what's happening. There are a couple of dudes two rows behind us that look like they are clapping politely but most of the other people are barely paying attention to the game. What the heck is going on? I'm so pumped up that my fist is clenched. But this is my live experience at a Wizards home game in a nutshell. No other picture could more perfectly sum up the atmosphere I feel most games at Verizon Center. It's almost like I feel I'm doing something wrong by making noise when the Wizards do good things. If that's my lot in life, so be it. I'm not going to stop cheering, even if nobody else will. RIP FanPics, if you are truly dead.

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