Story:Fan Appreciation Night
Fan Appreciation Night
Written by MigeYeFoxe
Fan Appreciation Night
Kresta jogs into the arena as they call her name, her signature headband held loosely in her hand. The stadium wasn’t nearly quite full but that was to be expected. The team was being call out early for this night’s events. Of course the team and the reporters were already informed about what was really going on; that the whole thing is really an event paid for by FBA CARES. The Summit would still be in their locker room at this point getting ready and won’t be called out until their normal time; most likely after the entire event had already finished. Nevertheless Kresta makes sure to follow through with all her usual pre-game rituals; of reciting her own, personal pledge and more importantly ensuring that the court sees her kiss her headband before stepping onto it.
The intercom is currently blaring off as a short, somewhat pudgy donkey is rattling off the rules to the contest. Kresta would stand at the top of the three point line blindfolded and take eleven shots at the basket. Her first shot would not count and would only serve to help her find the basket. Afterwards four contestants would take turns shooting from the free throw line. If any of them outscore her they will be given a signed jersey from the player of their choosing. The winner would become an honorary member of the team for the rest of the game. They’d get to sit with the team and even go with them into the locker rooms during half-time and after the game.
Kresta was only half paying attention. The fox was too busy stretching, trying to get as limber as possible for the game; not that she expected to do well tonight, she never seemed to when up against Margaret. When she hears the audio cue Kresta walks to her spot on the three point line. Sterling hands her a thick, black blindfold, the one she uses in training. Once Kresta has the blindfold in place Sterling makes a face. She can’t see that he did, but she can smell his proximity, can feel the air moving over her whiskers and can hear the sound of the crowd’s reaction so she can guess the general of it.
To Kresta, this is more of a show than anything. She has to sell being unable to see. The first shot has to be an air ball to prove that she cannot see the hoop. Then she has to barely miss a lot of her shots. Since she’s practiced shooting blind a lot Kresta could make seven or eight if she tried. But that would make it look like she was cheating and wouldn’t be very sporting to set the bar so high for the contestants. But she can’t do so poorly that it’s obvious that she’s throwing. In all honesty it took more concentration to barely make and miss than to shoot under pressure. Kresta satisfies this and manages to put on a good show while only scoring three.. Her job done she takes off the blindfold and tosses it in the direction of their seats for someone else to grab and takes a bow as the first contestant starts walking in.
The first contestant is a young cheetah in his mid-twenties wearing an old Hiroyuki jersey. He is easily two to three times Kresta’s weight and reeks so strongly of catnip that the fox has to speculate just how cognizant the cheetah really is. But he seems to be enjoying himself enough and doesn’t seem to at all mind when he only scores twice. The second contestant is a tall, young squirrel, a part of his high school varsity team based on the letter jacket. His for, if still a bit unrefined, was good. Kresta was starting to worry about how hard he’d be making their job and then the squirrel answers the question on if they were informed about the situation. He clearly gives it his all for the first few shots. He manages to get his fourth basket on his fifth shot. And then he moves. It’s a very subtle move, but now that he’s guaranteed getting a signed jersey he doesn’t have anything else to win he stops trying. Or rather, he handicaps himself by moving his leading leg back enough to off-center himself. It’s not an obvious act, the average person would think nothing of it, but it does mean his body wants to aim at the edge of the backboard rather than the hoop. As such even though he scores four points in his first five shots, he only scores one more in his back five. He chooses to have a signed Ren jersey. The third contestant turns out to be a kindly looking ewe in a dark blue sweater. She takes all her shots underhanded, which as silly as it is did give her her fourth point on her last shot. She chooses to get a signed jersey from Regulus.
And then the last contestant comes out as a little wheelchair bound mouse boy of only thirteen years old being pushed along by his father. And as soon as he can no longer see it the jumbotron starts displaying his story. That last year right after a home game against the Summit for the conference championship he got into an accident with a drunk driver that left him paralyzed from the waist down, likely for life. And yet, despite that, he still came to ever Howlers home game This entire thing was arranged because his dad had made a request with FBA CARES and they liked the story enough to set all this up as a surprise. And the kid just seems to be excited to be so close to all the players that he doesn’t even notice when Regulus and Christian, the two players chosen to catch the balls in order to keep them from getting out of hand, move a little closer to the net. If any of the shots look to be close to making it the ball was left alone. But if it looks like it’s going to miss one or the other would snag the ball and slam it in in an increasingly grandiose manner as if they were having their own personal slam dunk contest. The kid seems to be enjoying himself to the extent that his last few shots he seems more aiming to set up an alley-oop than to try and make a basket himself.
The mouse chooses to have a Sterling jersey signed for him. Sterling even goes so far as to sign the ‘What, me Stinky?’ shirt the kid was wearing. The team then gets together to take a photo with the kid on the court. Then everyone needed to move to the side so that the Summit could be announced in. The kid is then seated next to the coach and mainly just interacts with the coaches and the players heating the benches, the rest of the team too focused on the game, at least until half-time. Then the entire team made the kid feel welcome. The kid seems to have the time of his life and the game ends in a nice, satisfying win.
And though it was a good day and always nice to end it on a win and extend their streak, Kresta couldn’t help but dwell on what didn’t happen. The fox knows and understands that the event was not about her and she wouldn’t fault anyone for anything, but the fact remains that no one had wanted her jersey signed. And as she is heading for her home she could practically hear Doloris’ words all over again, that when the FBA is done with her, she would not be remembered.