A group of Toronto Raptors fans are urging their peers to follow that old, familiar idiom:
"Don't look gift pizzas in the mouth."
Pizzas, horses, whatever.
Since no one receives free horses these days, the pizza idiom proves more relevant, though perhaps more questionable.
I mean, who wants to turn down free pizza? It's melted cheese on bread with tomato sauce and maybe some meat, if you like meat. I'm not sure how you can make something with melted cheese taste too bad to eat, unless it's burned. So how can you be against free melted cheese food?
Well, apparently if it's making normally fine fans boo their own team.
You see, the promotion gives out free pizza if the Raptors win and notch 100 points in a game. Unfortunately for the fans, the promotion has been set at a nearly perfect bar; the Raptors are scoring 100.3 points per game. Toronto has the league's 10th best offense, but their strategy is to run a slower pace.
So on nights like tonight, when the Raptors beat the tough Grizzlies, 99-86, some fans turn to booing. This is the usual situation, a fan told me.
It's not all, as their fans know, but as one told me, it's still "a vocal minority." And though even many fans are applauding, a loud group of fans can turn a strong response into a mixed one, as we heard tonight as the Raptors dribbled out the clock one point from the threshold.
Raptors announcers Jack Armstrong and Matt Devlin oddly felt they had to reinforce that it was a good decision to simply run out the clock to end the game.
And so you might understand why we have this faction of fans trying to stop that. They feel the pizza promotion has this unintended consequence of causing a poor reaction from fans to boo their own team at home.
"They deserve respect and admiration when they win games, regardless of how many points they score. Booing a winning team on their home court is unacceptable."
Free pizza isn't the enemy, but the promotion's negative effect is. They're open to adjusting the promotion as long as it doesn't result in fans booing like they do now.
@SBNationNBA the format of how fans get the pizza needs to be changed. Boos ring out when Raptors win but don't score 100 points.— #StopThePizza (@StopPizzaPromo) March 15, 2014
As some have noted, perhaps it's a fan problem more than a promotion problem.
How do you create a promotion that has an appreciable reward without having a distaste for coming up short? I'm not sure, especially because I don't know anything about the Raptors' pizza promoters' profit margins and I don't really know anything about marketing.
But as a Bobcats fan, I do know their own pizza promotion, which has never caused boos. That's because the threshold is set hilariously low. Papa Johns gives any fan in participating locations half-price pizza if the Bobcats score 90 points, win or lose. They score about 96 points per game, and rarely score under 90 these days.
Of course, that's the easy solution, and perhaps one of a business locked into a promotion they set before a surprisingly-successful season.
For the Raptors, I don't know.
Personally, I think it's more on the fans to react appropriately. I think the promotion is all in good fun, for better or worse, but it still doesn't reflect well upon the fanbase to act like this. I'll defer to Raptors fans on this since they're the ones who know the team and atmosphere better.
Changing or abandoning the current promotion would do the trick to rid them of an embarrassing problem, but they're not completely closed to other options. They're giving Raptors fans with similar thoughts a place to gather, but they also welcome outside opinions.
If nothing else, perhaps widespread knowledge of this Toronto problem will help solve it and maybe Raptors fans can still retain their free melted cheese bread from time to time.