Grown men in brightly colored clothes ascend a hill so they can get a better look at their quarry. They’ve camped out overnight in an attempt to spot elusive creatures they’ve only seen on a screen. No, they’re not playing Pokemon Go, but they are definitely nerds. Welcome to Broncos training camp.
When Pokemon Go fever gripped the country a few weeks back, sports talking heads were quick to dismiss it. The usual platitudes of not understanding something outside their manly comfort zone came tumbling out like horse apples from a well fed equine.
It’s the usual thing: if they don’t understand something that’s not within the small sphere they occupy, it gets mocked. This is true for most people, but it’s the sports yakkers who predictably do it like it’s a script they’ve been handed along with their microphone. They have to. To be something other than masculine and accepting of anything other than big hairy dudes getting CTE, will make them seem like less of a man. Or God forbid, deviating from the boring sports talk norm.
But you’ll only hear this trumped up bravado for something like Pokemon Go when they could just as easily say it about Broncos training camp.
Going to training camp is just as nerdy as Pokemon Go and no one in the local sports media would dare admit this. The night before training camp opened, there were several people who had camped out to be first in line. For what? To watch grown men practice. If that doesn’t sound the alarm on a state-wide Nerd Alert, I don’t know what would.
I know people love the Denver Broncos. That is evident from the way fans react to any perceived slight by a national media douchebag postulating on the team’s phantom bad year it is supposed to have. Broncos fans are diehards. They care. And they want to show everyone what great fans they are and how much they support the team no matter how stupid the activity.
I get the allure of training camp: You sit fairly close to the players which is a definite change from an actual game where you’re lucky to be able to see whose name is on the back of the jersey. But no matter how you slice it, it’s practice. I get that people want to secure autographs and be up close and personal with the players, but it seems like a waste of a Saturday when you can just yell at them about their bloated contract on social media like everyone else.
And you won’t really know from sitting there watching drills who is actually playing well. There may be a nice play here and there, but there is barely anything you can glean from the few hours you spend there that will tell you what will work out in the long run for the Broncos.
If you really wanted to discern the immediate future of the team, you can follow along with the beat writers who are bombarding updates at you via Twitter. After a week of reading the blurbs of what someone like newly minted Broncos reporter Nick Groke has to say, you could actually figure out if Devontae Booker will back up CJ Anderson, or learn whether Ronnie Hillman is indeed still on the team. After the first session on Thursday, I had the all of the information pounded into me by the 10 to 12 Denver media people I follow. It can be redundant at times, but every angle is covered.
Other than saying you were there, is there any reason to go if you really want to see how the team is performing? No one is going to know or remember if you went to training camp at the end of the season because other than a few cell phone camera pics of players too far away to tell who they are, no one will know or care you were there. You will barely remember you were there.
Not to mention that you sit on a hill facing the sun. It’s miserable. It’s as if the Broncos are saying “look, if you really want to be here, ok. But you’re going to suffer for it, you obsessed weirdo.”
I’ve been to training camp in Greeley and I went the first year they opened Dove Valley for camp back in 2003. So I too have been lured by training camp’s siren call. But this was before the advent of social media and the immediate access to information. I grew out of the need to watch people practice. And if you don’t feel the same way, take a look around at training camp this year. If you can’t find the nerd, it’s probably because you are it.
Still, if that’s your scene, I can’t fault you for it as a fan. Just know that it’s incredibly lame people are vilified for walking around parks catching digital creatures when someone would wait in line for glorified exercise that won’t even count toward the standings. A preseason game will at least give you a sense of how a team will look in games and who will be on it. But if you go to training camp and you can’t catch your favorite players like in Pokemon Go and take them home with you, who’s the real dork here?