Intersection of Sports and Art Has Occur For More Than Just One Guy

Last week this tweet from Howard Sherman caught my eye.

If you read the article, you can really see his point. Except for the fact that the musical Daryl Morey is putting together is about basketball, there is really nothing sports related in the article.

Morey talks about how much he loves theater, the conversations he had that pulled the creative team together, the process of putting the production together–all things that you would expect to see discussed in the arts section.

Except, you know, the NY Times has cut back on its arts coverage, especially outside of NYC. (The show is opening in Houston with hopes of moving to Broadway.)

I don’t know if that is the reason it appears in the sports section. Given that Morey was the general manager of the Houston Rockets, he would likely have a better relationship with the sports staff than arts staff. The former would be more likely to get a better interview out of him.

If I am being optimistic, I also see the article as a good example of how a love of sports and arts are not mutually exclusive. If you are looking for someone with some gravitas in the sports world to make a case for theater, Morey is your man.

The musical, called “Small Ball,” which is now bound for rehearsals and a six-week run in Houston, bridges two of Morey’s great loves: basketball and Broadway…Morey — former high school trombonist, current theater obsessive — has relished the chance to sneak behind the curtain.

“Someday,” Morey said, “I want to live in New York and just go to shows.”

and later

Morey was a band geek at Highland High School in Medina, Ohio. After performing excerpts from “Les Misérables,” he was hooked. He recalled coming across a rare cassette recording of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” a thrill for a young fan of the composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Today, Morey’s appreciation for Stephen Sondheim runs so deep that he recently paid an artist to re-create “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” the seminal work by the painter Georges Seurat that became the same work upon which Sondheim based his musical, “Sunday in the Park with George.”

When asked on social media what he would be doing if he wasn’t in basketball, he answered he would probably be doing theater. Still even he admits there isn’t a big intersection between people who love basketball and theater.

Perhaps the most encouraging lines in the whole article are the last ones.

Still, Morey said he came away feeling energized. He also gained an appreciation for the talent of the actors and for his theater colleagues’ managerial skills.

“Let’s keep it vague,” Morey said, “but I’m like, ‘Geez, they deal with more stuff than I do.’”

If you are thinking, boy we could use 100 more like him, the truth is they are out there. Many of them are already participating in our events and serving on our boards. Maybe they don’t feel like they have the ability to clearly express the passion they feel and need some guidance to do so.

If they are talking about their passion, it might be in front of like minded people at gala fundraisers or chamber of commerce meetings. Perhaps it ends with “that is why I encourage you to give….” which might turn people off. That ain’t all the arts are about despite what the job descriptions of arts executive directors say. It might even be better if these conversations are encouraged at a bar stool or supermarket…or basketball game.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

I am currently the Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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