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Question: What do charity games mean anyway?

Answer: Absolutely nothing, but they do deserve mention...

So when a charity game occurs the outcome for the most part it does not affect our daily lives. It will not end the situation in the Middle East, nor does it take a step towards defeating cancer.

Come to think of it neither do actual NBA games.

Charity games do however have an edge on even regular NBA events. They help the community and local charities desperate for the assistiance . Day to day sporting events and their outcomes on the other hand are important for one reason, and one reason only; They are important because we care. It is often impossible to describe why we care, or to accurately and honestly summarize how deeply we care. It is not possible to quantify how much this emotional tie to our teams affect our daily lives, or the goings on in our city.

It is for this reason that Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata’s recent apology for describing professional basketball as “culturally irrelevant” means nothing. While Licata apologizes for the words he uses, he makes no step towards addressing the fundamental lack of understanding that went into those comments. He makes no mention of the fact that people besides himself care and that he insulted them by placing so little value on their passion. Worse yet he took something that hundreds of thousands of local residents care about deeply and implied that they should be judged solely by return on investment. I am glad that Licata took the first step towards an apology but remain determined to challenge him to attend a game and feel the passion involved. He needs to look fans in the eyes before he sends our teams away.

Enough about Licata: Back to the Charity games. Personally I care so much about basketball that even meaningless statistics grab my interest. I had a chance to get updated on just such an event yesterday.

Last week former Gonzaga star Dan Dickau hosted an annual Charity event on the Gonzaga campus. Dickau played last for the Boston Celtics but was recently traded to Portland. Throughout his career he has returned home each year to prepare for the upcoming season and also hosts two events benefiting local charities. If you would like more information regarding these culturally irrelevant events go to http://www.dandickaubasketball.com.

There are two stories from this tournament which stand out as relevant to me. The first is the SuperSonics' own Robert Swift. Not only did Swift participate, capping a long offseason in which he has trained almost every day, played at each opportunity, and is currently attending Tim Grgrich’s training Camp in Nevada, but he excelled. Swift finished the game with 28 points, 21 rebounds, 8 assists, and 6 blocks. I don’t know who the competition was, but at this time of year I frankly don’t care. Those numbers are worth a “way to go Swifty!” even if he was playing the Northern Spokane Junior High team. Swifts performance, along with his amazing devotion to basketball this summer are worthy of a good story which would go a long way towards keeping positive news about this team in the local papers.

The second lost story is simply that the event took place, complete with Swift, former Sonic Ritchie Frahm, and other NBA players with Northwest ties. In this time of great debate on the value of professional sports I find myself stunned that the Sonics PR department did not bother to shoot a single note to the media commenting on either Swift’s solid numbers, or the charitable cause behind the event. While politicians and taxpayers are squaring off to determine if the Sonics provide any benefit to the city, our own team is failing to provide supporters with the ammunition they need to support their cause. The team needs to make sure that residents of not only this city, but the entire region are aware of all the good deeds that these players do and that politician acknowledge those deeds as part of the equation when they decide whether or not to lend their support to this issue.

Last week KIRO 7 News ran a special segment relating to the arena issue. They closed the segment by interviewing a young man playing basketball at Greenlake. He commented that the city could not afford the Sonics and that he didn’t care if they left. It was ironically symbolic of the current lack of public awareness that this young man was interviewed and playing on a court provide by the Sonics and Storm Team Foundation several years earlier. It is up to both the organization and fans of the team to ensure that he, and the rest of the public, understand what these teams do behind the scenes and just what they are giving up with their lack of support.