Would it be correct to put an "a" before "spectator" in the sentence below? It sounds better to me with an "a."
Hedo Turkoglu did not play as the Raptors stumbled to a dispiriting 97-94 loss to the Heat Sunday night, reduced to the role of spectator despite being on the active list, a strange and curious twist in an ongoing saga.
***** NOT A TEACHER *****
(1) You have asked another probing question that reminds me of how little I understand the finer points of my language.
(2) I checked my books and the Web, and I think (think) I understand this matter a little better.
(3) It seems that you wish to use "a," and certainly no one could possibly say that you are "wrong."
(4) But my sense is that "role of spectator" is almost a SET PHRASE. Here are a few examples from the WEB:
(a)Both the speaker and listener are in the role of spectator.
(b)The role of spectator is crucial for an actor.
(c)How the role of spectator/observer requires action.
(5) I also found examples of "role as spectator":
(a) Discusses her role as spectator.
(b)The student's rule as spectator has shifted.
(6)One gentleman (who seems to have great credentials) discussed the so-called "zero article" in relation to the deletion of "the." But maybe (maybe) his insight might help better understand the deletion of "a." He feels that the zero article is used when the noun (in your case "spectator") is being considered in an abstract sense. That is, it refers to the FUNCTION implicit in the meaning of the noun.
(7) Maybe this is another example of idiomatic English. It seems that many
(most?) people have the sense that "role of/as spectator" does not need "a." Perhaps "a" would be too specific. Let's remember that "a" = "one."
(8) I eagerly look forward to others' views.
Have a nice day.