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An Italian in Philly: Basketball games for dummies

It might sound weird to some of you but I’ve never been to a basketball game, like, ever. To be fair, I haven’t been to any sports game at all. Even when I was in Italy, sports games were never on my to-do list. Coming to the US, however, I knew I had to watch at least one live game, after all sports are a key aspect of American culture. For this reason, on November 15th I went to my very first basketball game and here’s how it went.

The game was between the Drexel’s basketball team and the University of Pennsylvania’s team. The tickets are always free for all Drexel students so that was definetly a plus. We didn’t need to register or anything, we simply went to the Daskalakis Athletic Center, showed our badges and got our tickets.

No seats were assigned to the tickets so we could sit pretty much anywhere we wanted to. Important note: one side of the field was dedicated to Drexel’s fans, while the opposite side was dedicated to UPenn’s, so choose wisely before you pick one!

The game started a few minutes after we sat down, the stadium was full. Drexel’s Spirit Team (which I guess is how they call the cheerleaders) performed a quick dance on top of some pop music. Honestly, I was so surprised by how much of a “show” the game was. There was music, colorful lights, dances, and even mini-games, but more on this later.

After that brief performance, the teams started playing. So obviously, the objective of the game is to make more points than the opposite team. To make points a player has to make the ball go through the basket, so far it’s pretty simple. However, if a player commits a foul, the other team is entitled two or three free throws, you’ll see that happening quite often. The game is also divided into two parts (during the second part the teams switch court sides) and it lasts overall a couple hours.

Enough with the technicalities though. Throughout the game there were several breaks, some of them were only a few seconds, while others were a bit longer. During those longer breaks sometimes the Spirit Team was performing and sometimes there were some mini-games which involved the public. For example, two spectators were asked to participate in a game where they had to look for a basket placed in the field while their eyes were covered, the first one to find it would win a prize. During another game, they asked a girl to sing the lyrics of a song, again she won a prize. Talking about prizes, you should probably know that sometimes they throw free t-shirts to the public (the earlier you arrive, the more chances you have to get one!).

At the end of the game the Drexel’s team unfortunately lost, but it was still an incredibly fun and entertaining experience. At the beginning I thought two hours were way too long for a game and I would get instantly bored, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Time passed super fast and now I’m even considering going to another game! It’s definitely an experience I would recommend to all exchange students.

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