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How One Season Ticket Holder Watches the Trail Blazers

Portland Trail Blazers basketball is right around the corner, and contributor Peter Sampson is here to explain how he takes in the games as a long-time season ticket holder.

Los Angeles Clippers v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Three
Some fans like to show up early and watch warm-ups.
Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

After months of waiting, it’s finally time for basketball again. As a season ticket holder, that means I’m in the Moda Center at least 44 times this year (including preseason) and watching another 40-something road games on TV. We all love the Blazers because of the joy they give us, the distraction from the more mundane aspects of life, and simply because it’s awesome to feel like a part of something.

For many of us, myself included, this extends beyond simply watching the games in person or on TV. I was chatting with some fellow fans the other day, and they mentioned that they couldn’t wait for the season to start so they could go to a particular sports bar to watch the game. First, that sounds awful to me, and second, since this is the last week before we have actual games to write about, it got me thinking: How do we like to watch the Blazers, and why?

For me at least, it turns out there is a certain amount of ritual involved. Now, to be clear, I don’t mean ritual like “replicating what I do on every gameday to perfection” or “no washing my socks during a winning streak” (though those people do exist). I just mean in terms of my habitual process of getting ready and enjoying the game. Some people like to throw on their jerseys and experience sports with friends at a crowded bar. Some people like to watch carefully alone in the comfort of their living room. Some people just catch the games when and how they can and don’t care about the environment.

I am not one of those people.

Whether in the arena or in front of my TV, I always read through the Blazer’s Edge game preview. Even if I wrote it, I’ll read it again to see what kind of insights are in the comments. One of the best things about this community is the collection of differing viewpoints that might help shape my thinking about a team, a narrative, or key matchup.

I always throw on a black Blazers pinwheel t-shirt under my throwback Bill Walton home jersey. I’ve been wearing the same get-up for nearly three years now, and at this point, I couldn’t put on any other garb if I tried. If I’m at the arena, I’ll throw on a Blazers scarf, but that’s the only alteration I’m willing to make. I still have a Zach Randolph jersey but that’s been relegated to pick-up games at this point. I have other Blazer gear, but it just doesn’t feel right. I couldn’t tell you why.

Now, I know this is going to seem weird, but I always eat a peanut butter sandwich on game day. No, I don’t think this is a lucky charm or that it gives me analytical superpowers or anything like that, but this developed out of necessity. My first year of going to 40-plus games per season, I would leave straight from the office and would inevitably be starving by the time I got to the arena. The Moda Center has excellent food options, but they’re not great for the wallet or the waistline over the course of a full season. So I landed on the ingenious solution of packing a peanut butter sandwich and eating in the car on the way to the arena. After a while, this just became habit no matter where I’m watching.

At the arena, I always try to get there early enough to watch shootaround while enjoying an IPA (responsibly. Please know your limit if you’re driving to and from the Moda Center). I always like to take note of who looks good during warm-ups and see if it translates to a hot hand during the actual game but really, this is the most “me” time I get in any given day, and I cherish it. I’m free to watch, free to read, free to visit with the folks sitting next to me; it doesn’t matter.

During the game itself, I’ll inevitably scroll through the Blazer’s Edge gameday thread to see how everyone else is reacting to the action. During road games it’s always the same thing, just from the comfort of my living room. Whether someone is watching the game on TV with me or not, it’s not a social event for me like it is for some people. I’m fully locked in to the game with the lights off, or at least dimmed if I have to watch with someone else. Of course, if it’s someone who hasn’t watched with me before, I have to warn them: I’m a yeller. Bad foul calls (or lack thereof), sloppy turnovers, a lack of defense. I’m going to be vocal, even if I’m basically talking to myself. I really don’t mean to be, but it’s just who I am.

This season, I’m going to give the sports bar a try, just to see how it feels. I’ve never been big on not being able to follow the action by my own choice; but who know? Maybe I’ll enjoy it. Habits were made to be broken, after all.

How do you experience the Blazers? What are your gameday routines and preferred method of watching?