The Blobfish Basketball Game was a clear example of how neighborhoods are being exploited in the name of fun.

Like so many others, my friends and I headed to TSU a couple of weekends ago to watch Jimmy Kimmel battle it out with Ted Cruz to see who sucked more in basketball. The idea was cool, and it seemed like a dope way to get people excited about voting no matter who they voted for, and it was being held in Third Ward, which I thought was kind of neat because it would bring people to one of Houston’s historic neighborhoods where people who might not usually be exposed to big events like this could go for free, and it would invite national camera crews to an HBCU. Plus, I heard about Kimmel wearing TSU’s basketball uniform, and that was dope, too.

Yeah so it turns out I was wrong and there was NOTHING dope about the event. It was 150% a pure media stunt, and what’s more, I hated that Kimmel and his crew would bring that type of disorganization to Third Ward. First, we were excited because our tickets indicated that we would be able to get in early and get premium seating. As it turns out, EVERYONE’S ticket said that. We all arrived on time, but the line was wrapped around the building with people who were just as confused as we were. Also, the ticket indicated nothing about a time for doors to open vs. a time to get seated vs. an actual start time, so when we got there, we had another HOUR to wait in the scalding heat for doors to open. Those who had gotten in line at the correct door (also not indicated on the ticket) were handed wristbands, so some opted to leave and come back, but it seemed as if no one knew where to get wristbands and we were pointed in just about every direction. Plus, we heard they were only playing to 15, and we weren’t really feeling waiting all that time in the sun for a 30-minute game. Almost immediately, we decided we weren’t going to stay for that foolery, and headed to Pitch 25 to watch the World Cup. (BTW, you can check out Stakers for odds on who will win it all.)

BOY ARE WE GLAD WE DID! A friend of ours who did stay said the game didn’t start for another FOUR HOURS. Look, we’re used to celebrities being fashionably late, but maybe for an appearance at a club or party – not for what was advertised to us a community event (well, most of the time….looking at you, Drake). On top of that, people were turned away at the door for trying to bring their phones into the building. If you’re familiar with the parking situation at the TSU gym, you know that if you have to go back to the car, you might as well just go home (which our friend did). Watching the news that night, we saw that we weren’t the only people who left – the men didn’t even make it to 15 points, and the audience was extremely sparse.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Well, you can’t complain…it was free!” but the issue is much deeper than that. The problem with this event was that it is exactly what people are referring to when they talk about celebrities and politicians exploiting neighborhoods. This was no favor to TSU or Third Ward. The organization level was awful, and having people show up early, only to wait in the hot sun for hours was incredibly telling: You want to look good because you came out, kissed babies, and shook hands…but you don’t actually care about these people’s well-being. On top of all of that, I am still waiting to hear to which charities the money raised for the event went. No one can tell me. There is a big lesson to be learned from stunts like the Blobfish Basketball Game – we need to protect our communities better. Sure, the money they paid to have the game at the university was probably enticing, and so was the publicity, but to what end? As a native Houstonian who grew up in Third Ward, I feel the entire stunt was mad disrespectful and poorly thought-out. Not to mention, if you’re going to wear TSU’s basketball uniform on national television, at least don’t be trash enough to let Ted Cruz beat you.