Garrett: On bleacher butt prevention, giving in and giving up


It’s been less than a year since I wrote — mostly tongue-in-cheek — about Bleacher Butt Syndrome, a real condition that is described at length by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center on its website.

In that musing, I indicated that portable stadium seats were for old fogies. And I noted that I would refuse to take UPMC’s advice for avoiding bleacher butt, which is to buy and tote to games an ergonomic gel cushion.

I still refuse to buy an ergonomic gel cushion, but I must admit that I’ve broken down and now carry one of those adjustable, reclining stadium seats to the games.

Have I graduated to an old fogie? Mayhaps I have. The indicators have been there for a while, after all — the AARP fliers and Depends coupons the mailman has been leaving with my utility bills and credit card statements.

There are generally three types of people at ballgames:  There are the off-duty coaches, referees and some of the fathers who like to pretend that they’re coaches or referees, standing along the wall as if it might collapse and cause the gymnasium to implode if they aren’t there to hold it up. Then there are the students and the not-so-far-removed former students — some of which are old enough to have graduated to parent but still young enough to not fall into the old fogey category — who would never dream of carrying any seat except the one that is attached to the end of their spine. They plant their gluteus maximus firmly on the metal — sometimes plastic — bleachers and spend hours yelling “That’s my boy!” after 3-point shots settle through the net and “C’mon, ref, are you blind!?” after traveling violations are whistled, their butts apparently none the worse for wear. Then there are the old folks perched in the stadium seats that they’ve carted in with them — sometimes still yelling at Little Johnny or the referees but mostly just golf-clapping the made shots and pretty passes.

At the ripe old age of not-quite-40, I’ve graduated to the latter group. And you guys who are my age can laugh at me all you want…I sat through eight hours of basketball at Jellico High School Saturday and could’ve easily sat through eight more. I saw you guys, trying to admit that you aren’t as old as you really are, wincing as you stood up and headed to the bathroom under the pretense of — well, doing what it is people do in the bathroom — when in reality you were just looking for an excuse to stretch your back and give your backside a rest. I’ve heard the snooty types with the strong backs and the young keisters complain that the adjustable reclining stadium seats take up too much room in crowded gymnasiums…but, hey, I paid my $4 to get in just like everyone else and, so far, at least, they aren’t charging extra for stadium seats. (I don’t use my press pass for middle school games, on account of it wouldn’t be fair to yell at my son and the referees if I was there under the pretense of working.)

The first person I saw use one of the adjustable reclining stadium seats was Donny Babb, and decided I wanted one for myself. Then I saw Eric Henry start toting one to games. I feel somewhat guilty about associating Donny’s name with this drivel (sorry, Donny); less so about Coach Henry. But I bring them up to say this: I figured if Eric Henry can lug an adjustable reclining stadium seat into basketball games with him and get away with it, so can I.

Ben Garrett is Independent Herald editor. Contact him at Follow him on Twitter, @benwgarrett.