Diary of a Halftime Showgirl

by

Signing up for the halftime free throw shooting contest at Friday night’s men’s basketball game against Princeton seemed like the perfect idea. I was gung ho, and it’s not like I was going to get chosen anyway, so I would be spared the humiliation of actually having to shoot free throws before a crowd. Besides, I couldn’t back away from a challenge. But as it so happened, I was one of the two contestants chosen and was told to come down to the court with two minutes to go in the first half.

A lot of people are bad at free throws. I wouldn’t exactly be the first person to miss her shots in the halftime contest. Except I didn’t have any excuse—I played basketball in high school. Actually, I’d played basketball since first grade. But I’d never been good at foul shots. It wasn’t my form—my technique was solid, the product of lots of extra practice. But I always got too nervous to actually calm down and make a shot.

I wish I could say that Friday was my magic night, and I started shooting lights out, but the opposite happened. I couldn’t catch a break—my shots went straight at the basket, but I didn’t put enough power on some of them, and I neglected backspin. The only shot that managed to go through the basket was the one at the final buzzer, when I realized three things: I couldn’t win; I still had no skills from the line; and, basically, I had just completely humiliated myself.

And so I started retreating back into the crowd, completely embarrassed, looking to be enveloped by the “White Out.” But it turned out I wasn’t done—there was still one more task. Grudgingly I walked to the center of the court, thinking, ‘Oh okay, I guess I’ll…accept my prize? Yeah, I’ll take the foam finger and wear it proudly for the rest of the game, as well as Saturday’s game.’ At the end of day, was one Crimson foam finger worth humiliating myself in front of a sold-out crowd? Of course it was! Everyone loves free stuff, and a little public humiliation is a small price to pay.

I guess I should’ve learned my lesson. But who are we kidding? I’ll be back. I can’t say I’ll be better than ever, or that I’ll find my foul shot and take home the t-shirt. But what’s the worst that can happen—I make a fool of myself? I do that all the time anyway. I might as well get a prize for it.

—Christina C. McClintock

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