For 7 amazing years, I was a member of the Toronto Raptors Game Operations Department.
And now for something a little different here at the HQ. Writer Chris Walder looks at how Raptors' fans can find themselves participating in the in-game entertainment at a Dinos' match...
It's ironic how I now find myself writing for and covering a basketball team that I've not only followed for the past 11-12 years, but a team that I once found employment under as well.
I originally got the position through my co-op program during my "victory lap" year at Woburn Collegiate in Scarborough. All I told my teacher was that "I wanted something sports-related". I could have interned at an Athletes World and I probably would have been content.
She then told me that a former student once had an internship with the Toronto Raptors several years prior and that she still had her connections.
I was overjoyed at that point. Nothing was guaranteed obviously, but even the slightest notion that I could actually find myself working with my beloved Raptors had my emotional state at an all-time high.
I sat in a waiting area at Gate 2 of the Air Canada center dressed to impress. I had landed (at least) an interview with the head of Game Operations, Mr. Anton Wright, and I was itching to get it started.
Well, as you can guess, the interview was smooth and successful, as I then ended up working for Anton and the rest of the department for seven straight years. Anton even put me to work the day of the interview and had me roll four boxes of t-shirts for the game that same night.
I loved every second of every shift at every game. I did a little bit of everything. I assisted the Mascot with many of his skits and nightly routines, I set up promotions on the court with the rest of the Game Crew, and I even occasionally found myself tossing a t-shirt or two to the fans.
One task that I absolutely loved to do was finding contestants to participate in contests/games/promotions that took place during designated timeouts.
Yep, I was that guy. I made those decisions. I chose those lucky few.
How did I do it? What made me choose one fan over another?
It's simple really. I'm here to share all of that with you. I would assume that a good portion of you readers out there have seen your fair share of Raptors games at the ACC. Who wouldn't love to appear on the court with a chance to win some amazing prizes?
I'm going to help you out. Here are some rules and tips you need to follow in order to better your chances of finding yourself in that position...
1) REPRESENT YOUR TEAM!
The number one thing I was told to look for in the crowds was any fans decked out in Raptors gear. Wearing a t-shirt, jersey, hat or literally anything with the Raptors colours and/or logo on it will dramatically better your chances of being picked.
Obviously. Seems like a given, no?
The fans will get behind you right away if they see that you are a true fan of the team. Nothing makes a promotion look better than a nice, loud crowd reaction.
If you are wearing the red, white and black,(or vintage purple!) then your odds just went up big time.
2) RUNNING SHOES ARE A MUST!
A Basketball court is a very delicate thing.
Stomping around the hardwood with high heels, dress shoes or heavy-duty work boots is a big no-no. Besides, most of the competitions require running around and what not.
We're saving you from an ankle injury by not selecting you. I've had moments where I had to tell fans I personally selected that they were unable to participate because their footwear was all wrong. It's not a good feeling.
Those fans in attendance with their running shoes on will be selected before anyone else, I promise you.
3) WEARING AN OPPOSING TEAMS JERSEY? NO THANK YOU!
You would not believe the amount of people who have begged me to pick them despite wearing a jersey of the other team.
Why on Earth would I pick them?
The fans in attendance would boo you until you cried if you showed up on court like that.
Perhaps if we wanted you to get picked on by the Mascot for whatever reason, you may have a use. Other than that, I would save my breath.
4) GET OUR ATTENTION!
If you see a game ops member going up and down the aisles looking into the stands, it's pretty safe to assume that we are looking for someone to participate in a promotion.
It's always difficult to find the "right fan" for each contest, so help us out, get out of your seat and wave us down.
Make our lives easier by helping us do our jobs. We will thank you later.
Toronto Raptors fans are some of the most enthusiastic and passionate people I've ever seen in my life. Show us that.
5) DON'T SAY NO! BE PREPARED FOR ANYTHING!
We always have some sort of crazy contest going on at every home game. From sumo wrestling and dizzy bat races, to Karaoke and dance contests, we've done it all.
Be open-minded. A lot of fans get nervous because they feel if they have to do something silly or stupid in front of 20,000 fans, they will be forever humiliated and embarrassed.
That's never the case. I've never had one contestant come up to me after a skit or promotion and tell me they hated it. It's always a blast. How often do you get a chance to do something like that in the first place?
Enjoy the moment. No matter what we ask you to do, just say yes. It's always a good time on the Raptors court.
- Lead Editor of "Sir Charles in Charge"