Those that know me know that I am a big sports fan but I am a diehard Spartan. If you thought you knew me but you didn't know I was a Michigan State Spartan fanatic than you may need to reconsider how well you know me. Those that follow college basketball know that the calendar has recently been changed to January, February, Izzo because the Spartans Coach Tom Izzo is the master of winning in March. As a result of this, I tend to frequent the local establishment where other Sparty's congregate. Those that see me watching a game either have one of two thoughts in their head as they see me with a monocular up to my eye. They either think that I am an odd duck that wants to see every stitch of the jersey, expression on each fan's face or check whether Tom Izzo shaved before the game so that I can really get into the game action OR they think I am just another creepy guy trying to check out the girls in the bar. Neither of these are accurate although I have gotten some offers from other guys to borrow the monocular so they can check out a girl across the way
In reality, take the monocular away and all I see is a big lit up rectangle hanging on the wall that constantly changes in brightness, darkness and color. With the high powered monocular I can depict little objects moving on the screen and sometimes if the jersey's are contrasting in color I can decipher one team from the other but very rarely can I tell where the ball is, whether a shot attempt was made, or who made the shot. Monocular or binoculars won't help me see the score or time as that would be like telling the Wyoming Cowboys to win the National Title, it just doesn't happen
How do I "see" the game? How do I know whether the shot was good, who made it and what the score is? The answer is, by being very observant and listening to and recognizing the reactions of each and every person around me. When we score people either cheer or move their body in a positive and supportive motion. We miss a shot or the other team hits a big shot and someone slams the table, curses or reacts with negative body motions. People react very differently to a made jump-shot, monster dunk, blocked shot or a steal. As mentioned above, with the monocular I can see blobs of varying color (jersey) moving from right to left on the screen. I know the game of basketball very well. If we are wearing our dark green uniforms and coming down the floor and then all of a sudden all the blobs go towards the basket, most likely these players are going in for a rebound as opposed to driving the ball to the basket where only a few blobs would go towards the basket and the rest of the team would space the floor just in case the dribbler wanted to kick it out for an open three pointer. If all the blobs change direction quickly there was most likely a turnover. When a made shot occurs, there is at least a slight pause in the movement of the players to the other end of the court and one blob will go out of the wood colored rectangle (playing surface) and onto the solid colored out of bounds area under the basket. Never do I see a shot go through the net but I react and follow the game through the motions of the blobs on the screen and the emotions of the people around me.
People think I see the score when I can tell them we are up by two points with five minutes to go. In reality, they were unaware that I nudged my friend , who is in my "inner circle" (we will talk about the inner circle in a future blog in this series) and they whispered the score to me. With the upgrades in technology and accessibility, I can also have my phone audibly tell me the score by tapping on the screen in the ESPN app. This is not all that I get from people in my "inner circle".
People wonder how I can go up to someone and act like I knew right off the bat who they are but don't realize that there are thousands of very quick observations that are made. Immediately when I enter a location or event my mind filters down the likely people I will encounter based upon the context. I listen for voices that I recognize and may connect those voices to either people I have met or know may be in the room. I will also very discretely ask who someone is to those in my "inner circle" before approaching a group so that I don't go into the situation looking confused or timid.
The morals of this story is:
1. You see a guy in a bar with a monocular or binoculars and you can assume with high probability that this person has poor vision as opposed to being the creepy peeping Tom or odd ball that wants to immerse himself in the game.
2. You meet a blind person watching a basketball game and they seem to be very aware of the score and what is happening in the game. Don't begin thinking that the person is faking their condition or sees more than they are telling you. There is a high likelihood that this person is using other context clues to get the information. Blind people are great actors. Don't think we haven't figured out how to make others think we see more than we do so we can avoid sticking out like a sore thumb in the crowd.
3. You meet a blind person at your local game watch and they seem to know who is in the room and where each person is located. Again, don't begin assuming that the person must not be blind/visually impaired. There is a high likelihood that this person is getting a little help from someone in their "inner circle."
4. The final moral to the story is don't pick against Tom Izzo in March and Go Green!!!