Well That Was Something
(Free article.) Let's just get it out of the way first: I left the game in the second half because the speakers were too loud.
I mean, that's not WHY I left. I left because I was sweating and nauseous and even through I've received a negative Covid test recently, I'm still around other reporters and don't need to be sitting next to them if I'm sweating and nauseous. But I was sweating and nauseous because of... the speakers? I have no idea. I'll just tell you how it went.
As soon as the game starts, the crowd noise starts. I get it - all the cool kids are doing it these days. Make the broadcast sound like an actual game.
We went with the same thing Nebraska did last Saturday - constant ambient noise the whole time. It's not supposed to replicate the sound of a crowd cheering - it's supposed to be what the arena sounds like when there's 15,000 people there with many of them talking all at the same time. Nebraska didn't turn their "ambient crowd noise" off when their player was loaded onto a stretcher which made it super awkward. A moment where a stadium full of 80,000 people would actually fall completely quiet and they're pumping crowd noise over it.
This noise was similar except that it was A) indoors and B) very loud. The main reason it was so loud, at least for me, was likely this bank of speakers directly above and in front of me:
The sound quickly becomes annoying. Two minutes into the game I'm already tweeting about it, giving it an F-. Then, at the first TV timeout, someone hits the "super loud cheering" button and it's twice as loud. I see Brad Underwood lean forward in the huddle on the floor to yell louder to his players and I flip into Taylor Twellman WHAT ARE WE DOING mode.
We're distanced pretty far in the media area (moved to the Loge seating area above the tunnel this year), but Brad Sturdy gets my attention and says something like "this crowd noise has to go" and I tell him that it's all I'm tweeting about. It's so incredibly annoying. Like sitting at your desk and someone comes in and sets up a speaker stand in front of you and turns it up to 11. "Uh, why?"
But then it gets weird. I can't really explain it. I start to feel "off". Part anxiety, part nauseous, my whole body starting to scream "turn it off turn it off turn it off". It moved from "this is annoying" to "why is my neck tingling?" pretty quickly.
That immediately flips me to "I'm imagining this" mode. But as it persists, I move that to "I must have some kind of medical event going on right now" mode. But I just had my blood pressure checked and my pulse is strong and I don't feel anything other than "this blaring directly in my face feels like it's resonating inside".
I had read an article once about "sound torture" so at this point I start googling whether sound can send you into some kind of psychotic break or something. Looks like it probably takes 30 consecutive hours of Megadeath at full volume to do something like that.
The next TV timeout comes and they play some song with a heavy bass. Not kidding - the first bass hit makes me jump. This will sound weird but I felt it in my spine? Every beat is piercing right through me. What is going on?
I remembered the quote from 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan saying that fake crowd noise was "human torture", so I started reading artcles on that. Shanahan's point was that a real crowd will be loud here and then soft here and then the ball is snapped and they go quiet as they watch and then something happens and they make noise. Once constant sound, to him, was "human torture". Maybe we have the same disorder or something.
So maybe I'm not crazy? Except I'm pretty sure I'm going crazy. I feel ill from fake crowd noise.
I decide to simply drown it out. I listen to music during football games in the pressbox (we're behind glass so we can't hear anything anyway), but not basketball games (I want to hear if Underwood yells something). But I have my AirPods with me, so I put them in my ears and play noise canceling music at the highest volume possible.
That's better, but not perfect. I still feel off. It's hard to concentrate on the game. And I'm constantly fighting with myself in my head. "You're completely making this up" says one side of my brain. "Sweating, nauseous - how am I making up sweat and nauseousness?" says the other side.
I fought with myself a lot in that second half until I finally realized that there's a chance this could be something medical, and if there's a chance it could be something medical, there's a tiny chance it could be Covid-related (even though I had a negative test recently). And if there's even the tiniest chance my sweating and nauseousness was something else, I needed to leave. So I did.
Maybe it was psychosomatic or something, but by the time I got to the car I felt better. I drove straight to the mall and got a Covid test (just in case). But by the time I got there, I was 100% fine. Haven't felt an ounce of any of that since.
And the moment you feel fine, that voice tells you that you imagined it all. Sitting here right now, a few hours later, I'm absolutely convinced that my brain made it all up. I mean, I know what I was feeling at the time, and I can very specifically remember jumping when that bass hit, and the best way to describe it was the feeling you get when someone scrapes a fork across a glass and it squeaks - that full-body cringe was what I was experiencing on and off for an hour. But now that I'm no longer feeling that, I immediately think that I never felt it.
I also went through what else it could be. Panic attack? I've never had one of those, but they supposedly come out of nowhere. I haven't been anxious about anything, though, and was in a massively good mood all morning. And I don't think a panic attack would come and go like that.
I WebMD'd myself into something called "misophonia", but that's apparently something that triggers rage, and I wasn't rage-y. I was recoiled.
So I guess I'll just never know. Maybe that set of speakers are aligned just so and my seat in the loge section found the sweet spot where all of the sonic waves converge. Maybe stress boiled up to a certain point and this was the boiling-over moment. Maybe the cream I put in my coffee was bad (but I just bought it yesterday!).
Whatever it was, it was weird. Who gets nauseous from SOUND?
Oh, right, we also won a basketball game by 62. We scored 122 points. Adam Miller had 28. The Happy Gilmore "uh oh, Happy learned how to putt" was all over my timeline. It was a really good day.
So I should probably write about that. Here's a few of my favorite things.
(And because I just typed "a few of my favorite things" my brain goes "now you have to type out the lyrics to My Favorite Things using the game today" and I go "do I really?" and my brain is all "yep - it's the only way to redeem yourself after faking an injury and leaving early".)
Six 3's from Adam and 18 from Kofi
I can't see how we will not raise a trophy
Pretty sure we should start sizing for rings
These are a few of my favorite things
Ayo and Trent joined by Ace and Curbelo
Kofi and Giorgi are like STAT and Melo
Grandison 'Monte and Hawk are the wings
These are a few of my favorite things
I'm talking basketball before December
That's rare for me - I'm the guy who remembers
Jon Beutjer now coaches in Western Springs
These are a few of my favorite things
When the crowd noise
Comes through speakers
And I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feeeeeeeeeeeel so bad
Yep - looks like the speakers fried my brain.
I think I'll just do a list of things I really liked today and then go rest my head. First, let me apply a blanket disclaimer.
This was a bad opponent. Not much means much. The things we saw to day won't happen on the road at Michigan State. Full acknowledgement of strength of opponent is hereby noted.
Now, the things I liked.
- The biggest positive, for me, was Jacob Grandison. 10 points, 8 rebounds, 2-2 from three. Yes, Miller looked like a superstar and Ayo looked like the National Player of the Year. But this team also needs someone to fill the Kipper role from last year, and Grandison looked like 18 full minutes of Good Kipper. Having a consistent 3-4 guy could be massive for this team.
- NERDstat! Adam Miller's effective field goal percentage today was 108%.
- Just went and looked through the box score - Ayo scored 8 points in 32 seconds early in the second half. Hit a three with 17:44 remaining. Then Adam Miller gets a steal, tosses it to Da'Monte who flips it to Ayo - another three at 17:27. Then a quick shot from NC A&T is missed, Kofi grabs the rebound, he feeds Ayo, and Ayo scores on the fast break at 17:12. 32 seconds, eight points.
- It was 8-5 at the 16:00 mark of the first half. At the 6:00 mark it was 38-7. So that's a... 30-2 run? These are probably things they were telling you on the broadcast. I'll move on.
- I chatted with NC A&T play-by-play guy (and former Illini BTN Student U broadcaster) Spencer Turkin before the game. He told me that Blake Harris was eligible for NC A&T and that was a big deal. It didn't occur to me at the time that this was the same Blake Harris who was at Missouri and then transferred to NC State. That's quite a long journey. Committed to Washington with Michael Porter Jr. Then flipped to Missouri when Porter flipped. Then nearly led Missouri to a comeback against Illinois after being down 20 (Finke hit a few threes and we held them off). Then Harris transferred to NC State. Then to NC A&T. I'm realizing again that this is probably something they told you on the broadcast.
- Let's see here anything else that sticks out well we shot 17-34 from three that certainly helps and both Miller and Ayo scored 28 so LOL to those people who said they'd never play together and let's see here REBOUNDS WERE 62-18? Is that some kind of record? +44 in rebound margin? We could get out-rebounded in the next 10 games and still have a positive rebound margin. 44? Wow.
- 28-10-5 is certainly how you should your perform in your first "in contention for National Player of the Year" game. My goodness, Ayo.
I think I'll just end here and go rest my brain. I have no idea what the hell that was. Gonna schedule an appointment with my doctor just to make sure everything is where it's supposed to be in my head.
But I'm pretty mad that whatever this was cost me some viewing of this game. Because we might be better than any of us think.