The Psyche Of Leaving Early

There's several things in my life that I've abstained from that cause me varying levels of frustration everytime I see someone else do it. Standing up the minute the "fasten seatbelt" sign turns off on a flight. Darting ahead of everyone when you can see another checkout is about to open. Leaving a sports game early.

There's a method to my madness in all of the above. Standing up on the plane quickly just means you get to stand hunched over for 5 minutes while your frustration increases over how long it takes to escape. Cutting in on people who were ahead of you in the queue always seems to come back on you in some way, like getting stuck behind the person using $5, a gift voucher and a credit card to pay for their pack of smokes or the lady who is using this shop as an opportunity to get rid of her collection of 20c coins. Leaving a sports game early also seems to get you one way or the other.

Going to any sports game these days seems to be much more of an effort than it used to be. I live a 4 minute drive from AAMI stadium yet unless it's a blockbuster game and the weather is good I find it hard to get motivated to go. I generally walk to the stadium, take in the game and then walk home- a 3.5hr exercise. Going to a 36ers game takes far less effort. We leave about 30mins before tip off, park within 500m of the stadium, leave after the game and generally get home in just over 2hrs. Amazingly though, you still get a heap of people hoping to "beat the rush" and leaving anywhere up to five minutes before the end of the game (although this year you could probably have justified it during about 8 games). So why do people leave early?

The obvious answer is to beat the traffic. If you were attending a Showdown and had parked inside the grounds I'd kinda get it, but leaving 36ers games early seems a little....stupid. The traffic is pretty mild and at best you might shave off 5 minutes for the journey home. I've lived in Melbourne and have suffered the fun of crawling less than a kilometre in an hour exiting Etihad Stadium. This won't happen at Adelaide Arena...ever. *For selfish reasons I won't delve into the issue of why you'd pay $8 for parking when there is loads of awesome parking for free not much further away, plus you don't get in any queues etc.

I've seen people stream out of the stadium before and end up trying to get back in after the team has made a late charge ie the Feb 24 game v Perth. I'd almost like a rule that once you leave your seats during the last 5 minutes you're not allowed back in...ever. Besides results, there's also every chance you'll miss a memorable play, dunk or bench guy doing something special. The closest any fan has ever come to justifying the "early exit" I think is Bill Simmons, (AKA "The Sports Guy"), wrote this in his article today on Grantland detailing his experience at yesterday's Game 6 between Boston and Miami

"The fans were so shell-shocked that many (including me and my father) filed out with three minutes remaining, not because we were lousy fans, not to beat the traffic, but because we didn't want to be there anymore. We wanted to get away from LeBron. He ruined what should have been a magical night. We never really had a chance to cheer, swing the game, rally our guys, anything. He pointed a remote control at us and pressed "MUTE." It was like being in a car accident. LeBron James ran over 18,000 people."

Kinda makes sense.....but I still don't think that's an excuse. I reckon I would have still seen that one out. I was at the season opener this year v Perth and while that was not enjoyable in any form as a 36ers fan, it was probably one of the best games I've watched as a basketball fan. Perth were a machine in that game. Their D was very good, especially when they pressed, but their offense that game was as good as I've ever seen at NBL level over a full game. 48% from the field, 22 assists for their 35 field goals and pretty much every shot was wide open (you can view the box score here) .

If you are an early leaver, or know someone is, I hope this piece has inspired you to think about your actions or to challenge someone else. Or at least hear me on the standing up on planes and checkout jumping.


  1. Not to mention Mitch Creeks massive tip jam through traffic. That was huge in the Perth game

  2. Sometimes I like to leave early to send a message (albeit small and rather petty) to the team when their effort is lacking. Seems kind of stupid waiting to the end of the game and cheering the Sixers off the floor when when they've put in a particularly rubbish effort.


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