I recently discussed the matter of authenticity in connection with soymilk. I asked: Is soymilk milk? Fake milk?
Adrienne Lafrance at the Atlantic has raised a similar issue regarding a basketball game. The first half of a recent Knicks-Warriors NBA game was played without the usual sound effects: Music, entertainment, sound effects, etc. It was described by management as an opportunity to enjoy the game "in its purest form."
Lafrance points out that many of the players and spectators did not like it.
“That was pathetic,” said Draymond Green, a power forward for the Warriors. “You don’t go back to what was bad. It’s like, computers can do anything for us. It’s like going back to paper. Why would you do that?”
Evidently, the idea was to present the game in its "authentic" form: just the play, no hoohaa. Was it authentic?
The same criteria as in the soymilk case may be applied. First, was the game genuine in the sense that it originated from an appropriate source? Well, since it was laid on by the NBA, I feel sure that the answer to this question is "yes". No one would say it was a fake game.
Second, was the game unmodified, that is, true to its original configuration? The answer to this question is more fraught. As Lafrance points out, first radio and then TV broadcasting has fundamentally changed the game of basketball.
Consider, for example, the phenomenon of the TV time out. At first, this was regarded as an unwelcome intrusion. Yet, it has become an integral part of the spectable that is elite, professional sport.
So, returning to a pre-TV style of conducting the game may not be more authentic, since modifications introduced since that era have become part of the sport. As a result, the presentation might not be considered "pure" so much as outdated.
In my earlier discussion of what makes an old Volkswagen Beetle authentic, I noted that authenticity depends on how people regard the historical context in which they view the car. Collectors like old Beetles, in part, due to their associations with the 1950s and 60s, a "golden era" to many. They overlook the car's origins in Nazi Germany.
It would seem that many basketball fans and players today do not have similar feelings about the pre-TV game. They are quite comfortable with spectacle that comes with contemporary professional games, regarding it as an inseparable part of the experience, perhaps.
As a result, the relative quietude of earlier times is simply alien or bizarre.
“It was weird. It was really weird,” said Steve Kerr, the head coach for the Golden State Warriors, in a postgame interview. “It felt like church.”