Issue 59: Give Me a (Fan) Sign

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Much like handshakes are an integral part of basketball games, so too are fan signs. We’re never going to find ourselves on the court itself, so why not at least get on camera with a fun sign?

I’ve made one sign to bring to a sporting event, and it was for a women’s volleyball game in college. I primarily did it because my friend had a big ol’ crush on one of the players and wanted to make a sign for her, so I made a sign for another player so we’d just look like dedicated fans.

But you know what? I see the appeal. It’s hard to come up with something clever that also looks good. Plus, you have to hold onto the sign for the entire game. What if it goes to overtime?

That’s why I appreciate these 10 fan signs. Let’s dive in.

Face Your Fears

Man Holding Sign With Face

When I first stepped onto campus as a freshman in college, I was certainly dazzled by all the options around me.

I could almost literally fall out of bed and end up in the dining hall, where I could eat pizza or stir fry or cookies to my heart’s content. I could go walk to the gym and play basketball, table tennis, racquetball, or just be lazy and enjoy a smoothie. I could sunbathe around a lake and come face to face with an alligator.

Meanwhile, when Jack Blankenship was a freshman at the University of Alabama, he made a giant cutout of his face to distract opposing basketball players.

Blankenship, who is now several years removed from college, said at the time he was inspired by other students bringing cutouts of Crimson Tide players’ faces.

That’s a bit more common, but holding up a photo of your own face, while making the same face that’s on the cutout? Absolutely delightful.

Gonzaga Fan Sleeps In

Gonzaga fan with sign

Gonzaga is currently the No. 1 team in the nation and has been a powerhouse for the past decade and a half, so it’s right for their fans to feel a little cocky.

In this case, a studious Zags fan acknowledges his shortcomings while also supporting his team against San Diego State. That’s a double dose of dedication.

Side note: I sure do not miss taking college exams.

I Like Turtles

Kyle Singler as zombie turtle kid

One of the earliest viral videos I remember seeing was of this “Zombie Turtle Kid.” If you haven’t seen it, please take 18 seconds to do so.

Former Duke forward Kyle Singler kind of looks like that kid, particularly if you add white face paint and black circles around his eyes and lips (like a zombie, I guess).

That’s what Maryland fans did during an ACC tilt against the Blue Devils. Bonus points for the other signs in the background, which reference Star Wars and then-Maryland head coach Gary Williams.

Meanwhile, Singler went on to have a decent NBA career and made about $20 million in salary, so don’t feel too bad for him.

Long Lost Brothers

Dirk Nowitzki doppleganger

Dirk Nowitzki is the best ever to don the blue, green, and white of the Dallas Mavericks. And he’s the only player in NBA history to play for one franchise for a whopping 21 years.

Yes, Nowitzki’s career is legally old enough to drink in the United States (and has been drunk for years in Nowitzki’s native Germany).

But did you know he had a brother?

Okay, not really (though his sister Silke is a track and field champion). Yet the resemblance between Nowitzki and this fan is pretty spot on!

Hey, Down in Front!

Man with Sign Blocking Man Behind Him

This is perhaps the most self-aware sign I’ve ever seen. At least it’s not a huge sign, but still, pretty annoying.

I like the slightly amused yet irritated look on the guy’s face behind him, too. I don’t know if it’s real or staged, but it’s perfect either way.

Keep Things General

Sports Harder Sign

This is primarily a basketball newsletter, but here’s a quick football story for you.

When I first moved to Austin, I joined a flag football team (thanks for the invite, Sean!). One of the players, let’s call him Ampharos, was not a super athletic player but was competent enough on the field.

However, he didn’t look like much of an athlete, and he certainly didn’t sound like one. He’d routinely refer to what we were doing as “sportsball” and would make other faux comments like not knowing what the end zone was.

That made it all the more hilarious when he would score a touchdown, because the other team was INFURIATED. Could not be more steamed, even if they were steamed hams.

Anyway, this guy is channeling Ampharos with his sign. And I’m all for it.

Sorry for Getting This Song Stuck In Your Head

Dayton Flyers yelling Timber

One of the most famous college mascots is the Stanford Cardinal, which is a wonky-looking tree named for the trees in Palo Alto near Stanford’s campus. The tree, El Palo Alto, also appears on both the campus seal and municipal seal of Palo Alto.

Dayton’s mascot is Rudy Flyer; I’m not sure why a pilot would need an axe. Or maybe this is just a special situation.

In any case, sorry for getting this Pitbull and Ke$ha jam stuck in your head.

Lord of the Signs

Basketball Fans with You Shall Not Pass Sign

I’ma be real honest — I’m not a fan of Lord of the Rings. I saw one of the movies and left to go to the bathroom during it. Normally in those situations, I’m willing to risk a bladder infection to see the rest of the film.

But that day, I stopped to get an ICEE and played a round of Cruis’n USA before heading back in. When I left, the LotR crew was climbing a mountain. When I came back, they were still climbing that mountain. It truly was riveting.

Though I don’t have any interest in reading the books or the films, I do enjoy a good reference. And these two Gonzaga fans (hey, there are the Zags again!) donned full Gollum and Gandalf outfits to go with their sign.

I’m not entirely sure how they’re using this phrase, though. It could be like in the movie, as in Gonzaga is an impenetrable force, or perhaps they’re hoping for a game completely devoid of passing (getting the ball inbounds sure would be a struggle), but either way, I hope they’re entertained.


LeBron Baby Sign

Perhaps more than any other player before him, LeBron James gets a ton of criticism.

Sure, he’s opened up schools for students in need, raised millions for charity, and produced and/or starred in multiple entertaining shows and movies. But, as many players do, he complains after fouls (and non-fouls), and he’s also probably the best player in the NBA, so he’s an easy target.

That was particularly true of his time with the Miami Heat, and especially in San Antonio during the 2013-14 season.

The previous year, the Spurs were mere seconds away from winning the championship, only to lose to the Heat thanks to some poor free-throw shooting and even poorer rebounding.

So when the two teams met again in the Finals, San Antonio made sure they were ready. I like the 3D element of this sign — the photo of a grimacing LeBron is fine, but the bow and pacifier (even branded with “Go Spurs Go”) is a very nice touch.

I also hope this is during a timeout — get off your phones and enjoy the action, people!

A Waldo Duo

Fans Dressed as Where's Waldo

Waldo can be notoriously difficult to find, so kudos to the camera operator for tracking these two down.

The Colorado Buffaloes and Colorado State Rams have quite the rivalry (probably because they’re two land animals with horns) and there’s some good-natured ribbing between them.

These Waldos are pretty accurate with their signage, too. Against Colorado State, Colorado currently has a 61-22 all-time record in men’s basketball and a 14-3 all-time record in women’s basketball.

That’s a combined .750 winning percentage, or a Buffs victory in three out of every four games.

Ain’t no reBUFFin that, amirite? *Looks around at the now empty room*

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Other Reads and Watches

Why is this NBA artwork so cute?

JJ Redick whistled for ejection for spinning a pass to a referee

Draymond Green throws a tantrum to lead to a truly incredible Warriors loss

Dissecting of the Dap

That’s all ’til next time. Thanks for reading!


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