The Death of Sportsball

Twenty years ago, I looked forward to the start of college football season. If I was not going to a game, I’d make sure watch one of the big games featured over the opening weekend. My friends were all into tailgating at NFL games, so I would go to a few of those throughout the fall. One of the things we would do every year is pick a game somewhere in the country and meet there for a reunion. Granted, the game was not central, but the reunions were planned around a sportsball event, either baseball or football.

It has been at least half a dozen years since we did a sportsball road trip. I’m struggling to think back to the last football game I attended. I still go to opening day of the local baseball team here in Lagos, but that’s because I get free tickets and it is a nice excuse to skip work and enjoy the spring weather. The local baseball team means nothing to me. Over the weekend, I tuned in for one of the college football games, Appalachian State versus Penn State, but only because a friend was watching. He went to one of the schools.

Tastes change, of course, and sportsball fandom is more of a young man’s game than an old man’s past time. Becoming an internationally renowned crime thinker has changed my view on things as well. I spend much more time around crime thinkers in real space as well as the virtual world. Even around my old friends though, sportsball has lost ground to other subjects. Again, age plays a role, but some of the guys have made it a point to drop sportsball from their list of interests. Something has changed in the culture.

The NFL has seen its TV ratings decline over the last two years. People want to believe it is all related to the anti-white behavior of the blacks, but the decline began before the monkey shines. Part of the problem is the product. As the ownership has become more transient, the game has become more short term in its design. Players move around, teams are never the same from year to year, coaches come and go and the quality of play resembles an intramural game on the college quad. The quality of play is very low now.

There’s another aspect that reflects the new ownership. They try to squeeze two dimes from every nickel. This is becoming true of all sportsball events. The games are more marketing than game. Everything that can be monetized in some way is exploited to the point where the presentation is grubby and offensive. Watching a game at home is like being stuck in a room full of carnival barkers. There is something unseemly about billionaires trying to squeeze their middle-class customers out of their last dime.

Of course, to watch a game means subjecting yourself to the endless proselytizing in favor of degeneracy. There are the commercials for various sexual diseases. Then you have the fact that every commercial must now celebrate miscegenation. I saw a spot for the NFL featuring a Mexican single mother who cuts short her daughter’s lemonade stand so they can watch a football game. It makes me wonder if the owners of these teams have ever gone to one of their games. There are no low-riders at NFL tailgates guys.

It’s not just the NFL. I stopped following the basketball a long time ago, primarily because the culture of the sport. I don’t just mean the antics of the players. The NBA has always been a human flea circus. You watch bizarrely shaped humans perform like circus animals in the context of a game. That’s even how they sell it. What gave me the creeps is the feeling at the arena. Go to a basketball game and you sense the guy running it has his car running in the parking lot, just in case the the gate that night is too low to pay the bills.

My temptation is to assume it is me and the sportsball leagues are doing the same as always, but the evidence suggests otherwise. It is not just college football games experiencing a steep decline in attendance. All live sports are seeing it. Last year, a Twitter account popped up featuring pics of empty NFL stadiums during the game. Most of the featured teams were perennial losers, but not all of them. Even mighty NASCAR has seen a slide in their live gate and they obviously can’t blame blacks for their problems.

The Atlantic article I linked above wants to blame the changing landscape of television for the ratings decline, in addition to other factors. That’s tempting until you think about how we got to the TV sports world. When I was a kid, sports on TV was rare. Baseball had a “game of the week” on the weekend. The NFL had two television games on Sunday. Only famous college football teams were on TV regularly. At the same time, live attendance was low. Fenway Park was famously empty for the last game of Ted Williams.

If you look at the rise in attendance, it started in the 1980’s just as the cable television model spread around the country. What most likely drove live attendance was the creation of state of the art venues, beginning with Camden Yards in Baltimore. Like the proliferation of giant bookstores, the spread of luxury venues was driven by credit money.  Supply sometimes does create demand and that is what happened in sports. The flow of TV money also helped, as the cable model gave sports teams billions in new revenue.

It all seems to be unraveling now. The sports teams are still making loads of cash, but the reason they are resorting to every underhanded trick in the book to squeeze their customers is their customer base is shrinking. At some point, the math will catch up to them and the bust out comes to an end. Since the business model of every professional sports league is based o a growing revenue stream, even a flattening of growth is very dangerous for them. As a result, they will get even more avaricious in their greed.

None of this is new material, but what gets little attention is why is it we seem to be in a down cycle for big public entertainment. Taken in total, starting roughly in the 1970’s, sports and entertainment started on a long upward swing that seems to have peaked in the last decade. That’s roughly a generation, give or take. That means one answer for it is demographics. The 1980’s through now has been peak Baby Boomer. Everyone with something to sell targeted that cohort for decades and now that cohort is moving on.

Of course, the sports boom also coincides with two other things. One is the collapse of local, community based entertainment. You just don’t see youth leagues and community activities like you did in the 1970’s. There’s also the invasion of tens of millions of foreigners from over the horizon. You local community loses its attraction when so many of the people in the community are strangers with weird habits. Maybe going to sporting events and having watch parties was a temporary reaction to the collapse of the local.

Anyone can have their own theory, but what you can’t argue is the issue is purely economics. That’s the BoomerCon response to these things. “It’s too expensive” does not make a lot of sense when it was not too expensive last week. The great spike in ticket prices, for example, occurred well over a decade ago. Watching games on the TV you already own is no more costly than not watching the games. There’s something else happening and it is most likely tied to the cultural changes driven by demographics.

103 thoughts on “The Death of Sportsball

  1. “There’s something else happening and it is most likely tied to the cultural changes driven by demographics.”

    Of course, foreigners do not care about the things you all care about.

  2. NASCAR’s problem(s) from my view is that it has gotten too mainstream, too “family-friendly”, the culture has soured; and it’s too much of an investment from the owners of the teams/cars. NASCAR drivers used to be tobacco chawin’, chain smokin’, wild-eyed, crazy rednecks pushing a Frankenstein car they’d built themselves as fast as they could on dirt tracks or rough concrete. The races were never the same. Drivers would get into fist fights on the track, slam and bang off each other’s cars, cars could flame out, engines blow up, and there was always a nail-biting, edge of your seat, very real possibility someone could get serious hurt or killed; and some did! But it was part the element of very real danger, and the familiar charisma of the drivers that made the races exciting. The only difference between the driver and his fans, was one was wearing a jumpsuit and a helmet. He was a guy you knew, that you could instantly identify with, and was really, truly, just like you.
    Compared to today? The cars are so handicapped by rules that even with the different manufacturers (Ford, Chevy, Toyota) the cars are functionally similar. The races stop every dozen or so laps for a caution flag because a chunk of plastic is on the track. Cars are so expensive that drivers and owners won’t allow even a risk of wrecking due to debris or weather. A light mist gets the race postponed. Wrecks do happen, but are fewer and farther between. There is little to no risk of injury to the driver, so no excitement there; morning as it sounds. And some of the drivers aren’t even that good. There are better drivers in lower circuits that get passed over because of their personalities and behavior. The guys who get pulled up are media friendly. They don’t swear, they don’t spit dip on camera, they don’t have tattoos, they always have articulate media statements lined up and ready, won’t call another driver “that fuckin’ asshole that cut me off in turn four”, most didn’t grow up rural, poor or working class, and are generally clean-cut PG-13 rated boring millionaires living in huge mansions, that fans cannot relate to. They may not drive as well, but are safe for the kiddies. The owners, used to be local business guys (and before working on one required a master’s degree, drivers could own their own car!!!), now arrive at races in private helicopters. It wouldn’t do to mix with the commoners.
    Oh, and tickets cost a kidney, concessions are an arm and a leg (and the food sucks), anything and everything you can slap a driver’s name, number, or face on (bonus if you manage all three) has been made and is for sale at the price of a small child, and even for me, an ardent Patriot, the volume of ‘rah-rah-rah, ‘merica Number One!’ is a bit of an eye roll. So if you wondered what’s happened to the tradition of moonshiners seeing who had the best rum-runner, this ought to be a good start.
    I’m sorry to clog up the thread with a NASCAR rant. It’s been a part of my family for a long time (most of us men in the family have raced in some way, shape, form, or vehicle) and I wanted to put it out there.

  3. Think what baseball and basketball USED to be:
    – you played with your friends
    – your parents came to the games
    – for boys, your dad was often involved in coaching the team
    – your parents were young enough to play a game or two with you

    For football:
    – relatively average-sized guys could get on the team
    – you didn’t have to ‘juice’ to secure your place
    – you practiced, but it did not take over your life – you didn’t have to lift weights for several hours a day
    – the playbook was relatively simple to memorize

    Sports used to be a bonding experience for men and boys. You tossed a ball around with your father after work. On the weekend, you might take in a high school game, or watch professionals on TV. It was an opportunity for “guy time”.

    Now, women and girls are part of the sidelines. It’s a social activity, but not a uniquely male thing. It’s just not the same.

    I played sandlot baseball. On occasions, I watched with my Uncle Maud (a passionate spectator), and my dad (he was strictly a social spectator). It was a fun time, and a chance to watch men interact. They didn’t just discuss the game, they talked about politics, and discussed cars. Mostly, it was fun to watch the generations together.

  4. I’ve never been interested in our local professional teams because they were never local. We purchased all our guys from Oakland or Atlanta. I’d love to see sports teams where your team could only be filled with people who’s 4 grandparents had lived in that state, the parents lived in the state, and you lived in the state. Yes, my state would lose, but it would be _our_ real loss. Seinfeld has a bit on this from 1981.

  5. Agree with all previous but don’t forget the influence of video games with boys. If youre not good at sports or dont want to hang out with thugs, or both, then I can say as a 58 y.o. that video games are pretty cool, addicting, and not too bad at teaching teamwork.

    Theyre also expensive and time consuming and have undercut music and movies similarly.

  6. For me, it’s the culture. “It’s not my world anymore” is a frequent remark of mine. I don’t know these people on the commercials, and I definitely don’t know the people on the field or in the booth.
    If I wouldn’t hang out with you in meatspace, I definitely am not interested in you on TV.
    So, get off my lawn.

  7. The first steps towards this started with players (any sport) crying about their contracts or extensions or offers. Some fine examples

    I remember early 80’s when Rickey Henderson signed with the Yankees and was offered like $3 million year or something like that. Then a couple of years later he was crying because then everybody started to get million dollar contracts as he was no longer the highest payed player in the league. Oh boo hoo.

    Then Latrell Spreewell’s infamous ” “Why would I want to help them win a title? They’re not doing anything for me. I’m at risk. I have a lot of risk here. I got my family to feed.” after turning down a $14.5 million contract with the Timberwolves. Plus many other examples

    It absolutely turns off the average guy who is spending $100’s just to attend a regular season game with his family and parking and food and souvenirs for the kids. Seeing these high priced athletes whine over an extra couple of million is really a spit in the face of the people that pay their contracts to see them play. Back in the day, you could find a sports star on the street and he’d gladly sign an autograph for a young fan. Today a lot of them wouldn’t do it unless you were handing over $75 for the autograph.

    Then our sports news channels slowly started to bring in left wing politics. The great virtual signaling that irked me the most was the complaining that there were not enough African American coaches in college football. One season you might have 7 changes at the major schools, no blacks got hired and the announcers would be in an uproar. Of course, never, ever, did they ask how many blacks applied for the positions vs the number of whites who did. Never. If you had 7 job openings and had 1 black out of 100 applicants apply? Then you got a couple of guys hired strictly on diversity, they celebrated, then bemoaned the fact when a lot of these guys weren’t qualified enough to guide a successful program. Tyrone Willingham perfect example. At Stanford as per his Wiki ” despite lacking experience as a head coach or coordinator, Willingham was appointed head coach of the football program at Stanford”. He the proceeded to have a middling record, only 2 decent seasons out of 7. That of course was enough to get him hired at Notre Dame! The ESPN leftists were in glee, the common sports fan was like WTF? After he ran that program into the ground after 3 seasons, he then got hired at Washington and produced a whopping 11 wins in 4 seasons before calling it a day.

    Owner lockouts, strikes, complaining about cash, leftist newscasters who couldn’t wait to start interjecting politics into everything all that has already been mentioned here. Yeah the kneeling for the Anthem was just the last straw that broke the camels back.

  8. To your comment of foreigners ruining sports, you must learn to embrace the sports they enjoy. Consider some of the elite sports few of us follow. Take Polo for example. Now tell me in all honestly, who wouldn’t relish a nice Sunday afternoon game of polo with someone’s head in a bag as the ball with $hit-hole country players racing their little donkeys up and down the field while screaming gibberish at each other? While on the side lines we enjoy falafels or k-babs served with hot tea. What a lovely family outing. Fun for the whole family. Really, Z, try to be a bit more open minded!

  9. Most sports are an orchestrated racket now. College football is the worst. What a coolection of crrooks. Most games are insulting to one’s intelligence. I have said for years there should be a penalty called ni…r on the field; but then games would last 5 hours instead of 4 for 60 minutes of playing time. I agree with Z that the decline in interest along with quality of play has been going on for years. The kneeling thing was just the last straw for me. If any owner of a nfl or nba team had any guts they would field an all white team. Hell Belicik basically does now. I think it at least would bring some new interest. An all white bball team would do a whole lot better than people think. Sports are just too slick and specialized and boring with too many ads and downright insulting in multiple ways to even watch anymore. As far as live it IS just too damn expensive. That incluses all live events. Who wants to risk their life going into hostile urban areas just to be bilked as some sucker. They will all die because kids today are too pussified to even get off the couch.

  10. First off the Boomers are aging out of sports except for hardcore types like Sailer. Secondly, Millenials grew up watching sports being dominated by one race – blacks. Unlike Boomers who grew up when the teams were mostly white,

    The younger guys just see semi-incoherent blacks from the ghetto on the teams and worse watch them change teams on the drop of a hat. What’s there to cheer or watch? A bunch of strangers who will be gone by next season

    Also the Millenials attended school where organized sports was dominated by blacks and PE was rare.

    They simply don’t care anymore.

    Besides it was never anything but bread and circus for the masses to drain them emotionally and distract them. No great loss.

  11. Z-Man, your anti-sportsball jeremiads encapsulate why, twenty years ago, I began calling that annual horror . . . the Stupor Bowl.

  12. Seeing 50 year old men walking around town decked out in hundreds of dollars of gear in support of their team of negro mercenaries appalls me. Another example of permanent adolescence in our diminished society.

    I’ll never stop watching and caring about hockey though. I’m Canadian. (((Bettman))) hasn’t done enough promotion of “inclusiveness” to ruin the NHL for me. Yet.

    I take it you weren’t swept up in Caps’ Cup Fever this past spring, Z-man.

  13. Everything that used to be a party is now a grind. Sports games, rock concerts, a day at the beach or at a campground. Driving around for no good reason used to be fun, now driving is just a way to get from here to there. I can’t imagine what dating must be like these days. We have it all, but we have no fun. To have fun is largely a social thing, and politics and political correctness has destroyed it for everyone.

    • 10 years ago there was an old-timer who played the tuba for spare change outside of the old Kingdome in Seattle. He was a friendly old fart called the Tuba-Man. Three teenaged members of the Diversity beat him to death right outside the stadium. They were found guilty in juvenile court. The longest sentence any received was less than a year. I have not been to a game since.

  14. I grew up in Green Bay in the 1960’s. I moved away in my 20’s but still managed to attend a game there every couple years. Going to “the big game” has progressed from a fun and memorable event to an intolerable spectacle.

    My last game (probably forever) was two years ago. The Patriotic Tribute (with full military power flyover) was preceeded and followed by a bad rock concert.
    Down on the ground, far below the ad screens and banners, young black men in brightly colored uniforms milled about. They stood still about 95% of the time, but every so often would run around and INTO each other as fast as they could, but only for a few seconds at a time. Their antics occasionally excited the crowd to either cheer or boo loudly, accompanied by more music.

    The crowd was a mix of young and old white people, a huge percentage wearing team jerseys with a star player’s name on the back. The adults in age only consumed incredibly expensive cheap beer and burgers and nachos literally by the ton. Most had paid $100 or more for their tickets alone. Dozens of fights broke out (totally normal), and a couple of dozen people were arrested.

    The whole experience does seem like a cash extraction exercise. Fully monitized and financialized. Can it go on forever? Certainly not. Near the end? Hope so.

    • Really good post and comments. I was a rabid Rangers fan during the ’60s and ’70s; my Dad, brother and I went to the Old Madison Square Garden every Wednesday and Sunday night. Side balcony seats were $1.50, I kid you not. Players had summer jobs to make ends meet. I played three sports in college. What a different universe; I like it better.

  15. I get that it is important for the Z Man to work on a boomer bashing in these articles to show he is with it but, based on boomers i know, price isn’t the key thing driving them away from sports. Boomers just feel alienated from the teams for several key reasons touched upon in the article.

    1. The players. At one time, athletes, like those of the Oakland raiders, came across as bad boys. Now, they are more likely to come across as entitled thugs who clearly don’t like their white audience. Boomers aren’t always comfortable being that blunt but it is clear that there is no longer any fantasy aspect to it. Older people don’t fantasize about being one of these overpaid circus animals.

    2. Bowling alone syndrome. Maybe things are different in small towns but in vibrant cities there is dwindling civic pride. People are reusing to smaller groups and increasingly older men are alone.

    3. The growing matriarchy. This isn’t as prevalent but more and more middle class men rely on their wives to plan their social life and traditionally male centric sports aren’t top priority.

    4. Fads fade. When you are not as invested in the players, teams and city, how long can you keep watching the same action coupled with a less entertaining performance?

  16. Never cared for football. Any altercation at the bar was with some fat slob bellowing at the TV. Against better judgement actually attended a couple of games way back in the early 80s.

    Just more of the same behavior . They don’t call them “end-zone animals ” for nothing. Hockey is the only thing I follow anymore and even that most times is listening on the radio coming home from work. Just recently some commentators couldn’t stop gushing about this one particular player. It piqued my interest and of course he turned out to be a black Canadian.

    How the commentators keep a straight face endlessly bloviating about any black player that takes the ice is a mystery to me.

  17. I’m surprised by not only Z-man’s post but also all the replies have not consider one of the largest factors in the decline of sports. That factor is video games. In 2017, video games in the U.S alone took in 23.5 billion dollars and it continues to grow. As technology advances, video games become more and more immersive. My son and most of his friends have absolutely zero interest in pro sports. I try to get my son to watch some basketball or football with me on occasion but he has zero interest. Sportsball will die for a whole host of reasons but video games will be right at the top of the list.

    • I work in the gaming industry and 100% correct. There has been a massive drain on the potential customer base that formerly would have been attracted to being sports watchers but not players that is finding FAR better entertainment out of not just playing video games, but there is a huge video game *watcher* segment too. Kids and adults who don’t even play the video games, just watch personalities playing them and reacting to them.

      • Watching players is a huge market for lonely toddlers and kids. Enourmous numbers. That way they have somebody talking to them, since their parents don’t, and rarely visit for long either.

  18. College football is the only sport I watch any more. I never cared much for pro football and the BLM kneeling crap killed what little interest I had in it. I agree, however, that there’s more to the decline than the more recent racial agitations. For one thing, pro football is boring as hell.

    I watched a couple of quarters of a game last season while waiting for a meeting to begin and was struck by how little effort the overpaid prima donnas put out compared to what I was used to seeing from my beloved Crimson Tide on any given Saturday. The pros looked to be totally dogging it. I watched one guy make about a fifteen or twenty yard run for a touchdown. He pulled up and flat jogged the last eight or nine yards. There was no reason for him to keep running because nobody from the other team was bothering to chase him at that point.

    And why would they bother to put out maximum effort? You do that, you might get hurt, for one thing. They don’t respect their coaches any more, much less fear them. The players have got the owners by the balls and they know it, given how weak- willed the League has been in dealing with the kneeling. So, they’re out there humping it without fear of consequences.

    Maybe it just stood out to me because I watch so little pro football. If you were a regular watcher of pro football, you might not have noticed the decline over time. You can hate Nick Saban and a lot of folks do, but there’s no question that his players respect and/ or fear him. They go out every weekend and put out the effort, which makes it fun for fans to watch.

  19. I am from the south. I went to a big football college. I watched football on TV, both pro and college.

    Then over time, the game got to be a bunch of black guys being overpaid to act like thugs on the field.

    Then I stopped watching the game. About 10 years ago, I stopped cold turkey. I will not even watch the Supper Bowl.


    • I wonder how many guys say they don’t watch the NFL anymore, but actually kinda do. I have to be honest, when the playoffs come around, I’m going to watch. Especially if the Raiders or Patriots are involved. Don’t you enjoy watching a team you really hate, lose. Say, for political reasons? And if a guy doesn’t watch the Super Bowl I feel he’s dangerously close to moving into a cabin in the woods. If you don’t watch the Super Bowl you’re mentally off the grid, and perhaps little help to our side.

      • I haven’t watched the Super Bowl in over a decade and I assure you all my mental faculties are intact. IIRC, during the 2018 game day I took my kids to the zoo and then some family friends came over and we ordered pizza and played board games. If they wanted to watch it I wouldn’t have objected but they couldn’t care less about watching sports. Playing sports, on the other hand…

        I’m incapable of hating a sports franchise. Apathy is the only sane position when it comes to such matters.

  20. Up until this year I used to scoff at the (usually older) guys for saying they won’t watch football anymore. But I’m having a turnabout. It’s strange that I’ve changed my opinion on it in just in the last 3 months. I’m not usually flakey-changey in my views. I suppose it’s because in that short a time, the Left has gone agitation crazy. Like Mark Taylor said above, the media is actively stoking players in interviews to declare themselves against Trump, i.e. con-whitey…i.e. half the nation….i.e. me.

    In the last 40 years I never got the feeling that the black players hated me. First off, jocks aren’t good haters. And sports fans aren’t that political or racist. Sure there was a degree of racial discomfort or suspicion. But with sports, both sides could live with it, as the team and fans became a single “club”.

    Now I look at my Raiders and think, woh, these guys actively, *vocally* hate me. If the level of hostility toward us had remained at 2016-17 levels, I’d still be watching, even with them kneeling. But it’s just ridiculous now. They’ve motivated me to political-statement levels. To not only not watch as much because it’s boring, but because they hate me and I hate them back.

    The weird thing is, I don’t get how the league and media expect us to be ok with it, and just keep supporting their product. That’s honestly hard to make sense of. I don’t believe the Left wants to abolish the NFL, because it’s a weapon for them now. So I don’t get it.

    Quick question, can my cable company tell when I’ve stopped watching certain programming, like the NFL? I hope so. As for the bars, well, I’m not just gonna stare at my burger the whole time. Gotta watch.

  21. I was never a sportsball guy, so I don’t know what it’s like to lose the desire to watch. But I’m curious, if anyone would recount what that process is like.

    I guess that it’s like how I don’t watch porn anymore, even though I often enjoyed it, because I feel bad about participating in something that is harming my people. Analogously, shitting in your water source may give you momentary relief, but you know that you’re harming your people in the long run.

  22. Agree as always. What is interesting to an ex-pat in Australia like me is how popular sports is here– and I’m no sports guy and never really was. No athletes here get mega-rich but there are sports at every level and a fair few do OK as pro athletes (enough so they don’t need a day job but not earning hundreds of thousands). Most grow up and parlay their sports careers into real jobs. There’s a local community feel to it as well, with local pride at stake. Seems like the way sports were when I was growing up in the US. And of course Aussie demographics aren’t as unbalancced as the US…yet.

    • Sports used to be a way to bring negroes into college; now “college” is a way to bring negroes into sports.

  23. A minor quibble in the grand scheme of things, but shows the growth in corporatism and decline in localism and tradition.

    Yesterday on ESPN I saw a highlight of a game, and the host said it was at “Citizens Bank Field”. Use of the word “field” tells me it’s probably baseball, but…..beyond that I have no f***ing idea where “Citizens Bank Field” is.

    As a youf I used to pride myself on knowing the names of all the ballparks in baseball, NFL, and a LOT of college football stadiums (Ross-Ade, anyone?).

    The colleges are still mostly intact, and baseball still has its Fenway, Wrigley and Dodger, but there’s a whole slew of Citizens Banks out there. One more nail to make me say…aww….the hell with it. I’ll switch the channel to an old Perry Mason. LOL

    • The college football stadium in my hometown was renamed in honor of a guy who got rich by figuring out how to extend the shelf life of potato salad to something like 3 months….

  24. One thing I haven’t seen mentioned in the demographic talk: our society’s obesity rates.

    I think it’s reasonable to expect that kids aren’t going to develop a lifelong passion for a sport or sports that they’re too fat and wheezy to play.

    I certainly don’t think it is the sole or even a large reason for the decline of sportsball, but I think it factors in there.

  25. I recently attended an NFL preseason game at Soldier Field because a relative is trying to make the team. The last time I attended an NFL game was about about 20 years ago. There’s a big difference between now and then, and I won’t go to another game.

    In between every play they blast “music” which to me, was an assault on my eardrums. It’s high-energy, heavy, booming dance-type music which seems like they’re trying to force “fun” down your throat. This went on all game long, with no breaks. They can’t just let the game unfold at it’s own pace, and instead, try to make feel like you’re attending an exciting event.

    I experienced a similar force-fed fake fun event at an NBA game at the United Center last winter and it was annoying. Combined with high ticket prices, high cost of concessions, high parking prices, congested traffic, players making unbelievably high salaries, made me feel like an idiot for sitting through an unpleasant experience.

  26. The media feels the need to ask every athlete of every sport how they feel about Trump. Anything short of spastic babbling about living in a NAZI regime is unacceptable.

    All I see in every sport now is people I hate playing and talking about a game that is no longer entertaining.

  27. Here in the UK, I have every sympathy, Z. Soccer is our national pastime, or was, but I find I am one of many becoming increasingly disillusioned with watching a game that while it sustained the interest of me and many friends and colleagues over the years, doesn’t have much to offer now.

    I have argued that one of the factors was too many meaningless games on television (complete with vapid commentary that reveal nothing about the game being played; my favourite is some commentator repeating uninteresting ‘facts’ that bear little relation to the game on your screen). I agree tastes change, but I also detect the same here that was outlined in the post. Many football club owners are now foreign magnates and they care little about the local fans despite paying lip service to them, and charge them the earth for less-than-great events.

    There is however a bigger factor for me, and that’s loyalty. The top flight of the English game is full of strangely-named foreign players who are here for one or two seasons simply because the money’s good. They leave as soon as they have milked what they can from the English game, but no one seems to care for there is always another handful of weirdly-named Africans waiting to step in and take more cash.

    On this latter point, the Englishness of the football teams has been lost. A few weeks ago I saw one of the England youth teams in a game and thought it was like watching Young Africa play; there were two or three non-Africans in the team and for some reason I can’t cheer for them too much. Plus, there was a profusion of rainbow flags and calls for inclusivity at the game, which doesn’t interest me in the slightest.

    At the same time, the media here began take up the all-important topic of how many muslims are playing the game and how many will soon be featured in an England shirt. The issue does not appeal to me, and nor does it appeal to many who don’t like the immivasion going on in these islands.

    • One only need look at a classic French soccer team photo from the 1950’s and one from today to see where football is heading in Europe. Germans still love football because at least every four years, we can be openly proud about being Germans and wave our flags without getting shouted down as Nazis.

      Personally, when I was living in the Bay Area, I did enjoy watching the San Jose Sharks play ice hockey. I think that sport has still remained predominantly white in North America.

  28. One of the biggest changes to pro sports, and second only to television, occurred in 1976 when Curt Flood won his lawsuit and the free agency era began. Us old farts can remember when star players started and finished their careers with the same team. After 1976, that slowly started to unravel, and now it’s quickened its pace. And these kind of mercenary, big business tactics by both the owners and the players made a business out of a sport, and made a customer out of a fan.

    • The lack of a long term cohesive team really does suck for the fan. But I also believe in free movement. How’d you like to be stuck on the Browns for 10 years?

    • nicely summed, “…made a business out of a sport, and made a customer out of a fan.”
      But more like a mark; and I don’t think anyone likes getting played.

  29. I can buy demographics as a factor, especially if you see soccer overtaking other sports in market share, but I think you’re understating the economics. We have a convergence of:
    – Boomers permanently leaving the market (you know what I mean).
    – Millennials having less disposable income than their parents.
    – Cord-cutting and the exodus from cable TV to Netflix, YouTube, etc.
    – Market saturation: we used to have to seek out pro sports, now there are a thousand teams, a zillion TVs blasting them in public, and packages that let you watch every game whenever you want. There’s a point at which ease of access gives way to commoditization and customers expect steep price cuts.

    Of course I’m sure the cultural effects are also part of it, with an increasing number of Americans feeling as though the owners of these teams and leagues are parasites who hate their customers. However, I think over-exploitation and a generational/class demographic shift outweigh any racial/national demographic shift in this specific instance.

          • weird, if you google “average per game attendance of five major sports” it’s the first article and you can view the page without subscribing. but going directly through the link i provided hits a paywall.

            anyway, it shows soccer has the third highest attendance per game, of all major sports. ahead of the nba and nhl. and that’s just for shitty mls soccer; far more people also watch european soccer.

      • That’s my point. Soccer is the favored sport of Diversity and the Brahmin class. If the decline in traditional American sports isn’t accompanied by a corresponding spike in soccer interest, then demographic change probably isn’t the reason. At least, not as a first-order effect, and higher-order effects are presently a guessing game.

        • Over here in U.K. despite attempts to make it otherwise football (soccer) is still white,working class and very tribal….I love it and long may it remain so.

      • I dunno. In the small town near me, they tore down the bowling alley and put in a fancy gym. I think bowling is hurting.

        • I’d tend to agree. While bowling certainly isn’t going extinct all the small town bowling alleys in my corner of the Midwest are gone. The larger towns and cities don’t have as many lanes as they used to either.

      • Somehow MLS has conned dozens of cities into giving them tax-funded stadiums. Soccer might not be big on TV yet, but there is a spectator demand. There’s nothing magic about our dirt that will turn Hispanics into NFL fans instead of soccer fans, but optimism about euroball may be mistaken as they probably still follow the teams in their homelands.

  30. Take a look sometime in how the demographics of ownership have changed in these teams. Perhaps there is correlation between that and the way they are conducting business.

  31. On this topic, I am always reminded of Jerry Seinfeld’s “rooting for the clothes.”

    There is no more “House that Ruth Built.” Ruth played for the Yankees for 14 years.

    Mickey Mantle played for the Yankees for 17 years. It was the only team he ever played for.

    Joe Dimaggio played for the Yankees for 11 years over a span of 16 years (interrupted by war time service) and, again, it was the only team he ever played for.

    When you were rooting for the Yankees, you were rooting for Ruth, Mantle, Dimaggio, guys with ties to the team. You were rooting for Yogi Berra whose relationship with the Yankees spanned 29 years.

    Nowadays, it means nothing.

    That sort of longevity is unknown now. Players and team owners don’t even have a choice if they want to keep a valuable player that long.

    Also, they’re not my people, anymore. I don’t feel any kinship with a vulgar black ghetto thug.

    • I found it surprising about how much blacker the NFL is today than it was in the 1980s. Given that the players are essentially faceless under helmets, it explains how this escaped public notice. In Cleveland it was a novelty when there was a white running back several years ago. The percentage of blacks in MLB peaked in the 1970s, Caribbean blacks don’t appear to count in the same way. The NHL and NASCAR are pandering hard to get more non-whites into the sport. It’s a bad sign when the Boomer conservative male still doesn’t seem to understand their people are being replaced, or worse they rationalize it by saying they will be dead by then.

      • You’ve got to trying pretty hard to not notice that there’s all sorts of dreadlocks and other funky “diversity” hairstyles hanging out from under the helmets of football players.

        Even if you can’t much see their faces ( I actually don’t think that’s true – I’ve always been able to notice the faces of the players pretty easily – at least until many of them actually started wearing face shields).

        Besides – NFL games always have a lot of players standing on the sidelines. With their helmets off. You can see who is who pretty easily then too.

        • What I meant to say is that I was surprised to find out that the NFL used to be much whiter than it is today. I was introduced in 1999 when the Browns were revived, the idea that the NFL is two-thirds black is still surprising when you consider that the most visible position (QB) and the most successful team (New England) are much whiter. I haven’t paid any attention since at least 2014, I’m not sure I could even name any current starters.

    • This.

      When everyone from players to owners to sponsors are transients just in it for the buck, who cares?

      The NFL could cut its expenses with a new biz model: hire 100-200 athletic actors, house ’em in a remote dorm somewhere, select 2X 40 of them daily for a “game” on a field adjacent to the dorm, issue “jersey of the day” to each group, CGI the crowds and coaching staph in, interspersed with faked “star player close-ups,” broadcast the week’s results on Sundays just like it was a real game between real teams. 11-12 minutes of actual play plus 3 hours of commercials, commentary and “officials” officiating, cheap to do, high profit. The “star players” could be housed in Hawaii, come to a studio to suit up for a few days for their close-ups, drink margs on the beach the entire season.

      When it succeeds for the NFL, NASCAR can adopt it. Think of the savings in sheet metal repairs alone.

  32. Two more factors.

    1) There are more entertainment options available now than ever before.

    2) Youth sports has become “professionalized”. Kids don’t play unsupervised pick up, games at all anymore. And the ones that play on teams are pushed to either become super serious about doing so, or drop out. By super serious I mean year round travel teams and the like, starting at age ten and younger. So an interest among pre teens and teens is much narrower and deeper. Which has two conflicting realists. First the number of kids that ever develop an interest in a sport is ever smaller, and the ones that do have such an interest (and their parents) just don’t have the time to devote to watching pro sports as entertainment. Additionally, there’s a lot less interest in youth football -because of the fear of injuries – than in other sports like soccer, volleyball etc.

    • I think #2 is a big factor. To make a HS team anymore, you have to commit to a single sport year-around. It really has gotten absurd. You end up with 4-5 days of practice and then weekend tournaments. The kids have time for nothing else. Then the kids that simply want to play a normal season (couple of practices with a game or two a week) don’t get a chance. It’s Soviet/Chinese/Eastern Block levels of dedication.

      The West used to look at sports, like a lot of things (education, partying, healthy living, religion), as a good thing within reason. There might be that kid here or there who really enjoyed practicing sportsball 24/7 (or loved math/science). However, forcing your kid into that kind of routine was considered unhealthy at a minimum.

      One addition problem is that schools are too large in many cases. Smaller schools mean more chances for kids to participate in multiple activities.

  33. I’m an old man. So as a kid in the 70’s I attended quite a few NFL games. The crowds were all male and all white. The teams were still mostly white. The over the top patriotism didn’t exist. Beer and hotdogs or peanuts was all that was on offer in the stadium. All the old white fans were smoking. I brought binoculars to see the players more clearly when they where near the opposite end zone.

    I attended a game 3 years ago. I got wanded and searched going in. The crowd was 25% Black and 30% women. The menu had everything from hotdogs to sushi. They had beer but also cocktails. The patriotism and military worship was over the top. I dropped into a store in the stadium that was selling jerseys for $200.00+. No smoking in the outdoor stadium. The Jumbotron and all the sideline ads were constantly selling crap. People were renting digital devices that showed replays and scores from around the league.

    The cloud people had descended on the NFL. And I realized at that moment I was no longer part of their audience. I’ve turned it off, it’s not my sport. I don’t miss it at all.

    • The over the top patriotism didn’t exist.

      It didn’t have to. We were all quietly patriotic in our daily lives and everyone took it for granted. We didn’t need to make an ostentatious show about it.

      • I never heard “thank you for your service” in the 80s and 90s. Now people race to say it the second you mention you were in the military. It sounds like the voice of society’s guilty conscience.

        • “thank you for your service” made me very uncomfortable the first time I heard it 4 years ago.
          I was thinking, “Where were you 49 years ago?” Hell, the kid was only 20 years old and parroting the insincere platitudes of a Country trying to gain its self-respect after betraying Veterans for decades, starting with Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Kosovo, etc..
          It still makes me uncomfortable, as most of the younger generation don’t have a clue what sacrifices those in the military make so they can continue to stay in the Mom and Dad’s basement.

          • I’ll believe that “Thank you” is sincere when they start forming the mob to string up those VA assholes that SHOULD have been fired (a few were, most were temporarily moved/re-assigned, and are now back in their jobs).

      • The recently interred Sen McCain,in 2015, revealed in a report that DOD was using millions of taxpayer dollars to stage these patriotic displays. The NFL,MLB,NBA,NASCAR, all cashed in. The report said this started in 2012,and DOD,chastised,ended the payments in 2015. Their defense was that it was a recruitment tool.
        I’d love to know what lawn dart at the Pentagon thought it was a good idea in the first place. Considering the time frame,I’m also suspicious of the types of people they were hoping to recruit.

      • Not “over the top” but “monetized patriotism”, it too falls under “monetize everything” Z was talking about, honoring the troops is a contractual obligation and the DOD is paying for this service.

    • American sportsball leagues are desperate to go international. The US/CAN is an oversaturated market, but a team in Mexico or in Europe is probably still unviable. Even the loss of one NFL game to London causes a significant tax impact to the home city that didn’t host the game. I doubt the stadium extortion tactic could be wielded overseas. It says a lot when teams in Los Angeles still don’t manage to sell seats, indicative of Hispanics only showing interest in USC college ball and soccer. Asians seem categorically uninterested in football.

    • Nick – I went to a lot of Patriots games in the 70s with my Dad. It was a crummy stadium and often a bad team. But is was so much more fun. Old guys smoking cigars and complaining about the team while drink $1 beers. Not constant bombardment of sound and lights and advertisements.

      Same with Fenway Park in the 70’s. Any music, including the national anthem, was a guy playing an old organ.

  34. For me, the whole of sportsball has degenerated into a crass parody of the current culture. My last NFL game on tv was Walter Payton’s last game. Last NBA game was Michael Jordan’s last game in Chicago. My wife is a huge Cub fan so I set up an old smart phone with XM radio to get the Cub’s radio on XM streaming. I nearly smashed the damn phone until I figured out how to pause at the SCREAMING commercials and then fast forward multiple 15 seconds to live action.
    We NEVER watch anything on TV live anymore. All shows are taped and then FF thru the hideous commercials. Every once in a while I am not paying attention and a horrid commercial finds its way through to my consciousness. It feels like some one stuck an ice pick in my eyes and ears.
    The culture I grew up with is dead. The current one is not worth saving. Happy to be my age and hopefully will not have to witness the total collapse of what little is left.

  35. None of this is new material, but what gets little attention is why is it we seem to be in a down cycle for big public entertainment.

    When I read that line, it struck me that sportsball isn’t the only entertainment affected. You can see a parallel in the music business. Sure, you have your big cash generators like Beyonce or Jay-Z, and a few old time acts from the 70s or 80s that can roust the oldsters off the couch for a night on the town.

    But nobody pretends they have any real significance. People don’t seem to be passionate about music they way they used to be. While the acts may make money, they certainly aren’t cultural icons in the way some acts used to be. No Sinatras, Elvises, Beatles or Led Zepplins, or even Michael Jacksons. The modern acts may generate cash, but they’re mostly just generating incidental music.

    When Elvis died or John Lennon was shot, those events generated headlines for days. Would even the biggest of today’s money makers rate anything like that kind of attention now? Something bigger than sportsball is happening, and I’m not sure I understand it.

    • Jayz isn’t selling out either. All the anti-white rhetoric is effecting concert attendance too…

  36. Its demographics. Look at what passes for your typical young Millennial white male these days and an athlete or sports fan he is not. I think its the gradual feminization of the American male, which actually began in the mid 80’s. Even your typical grunge listening Gen X guy in 1992 was not as masculine as his counterpart 10 years before in 1982. Its been downward even since. The youth are becoming less athletic as time goes on.

    The ads for STD’s and the like come from the ad agencies whom point out that the traditional 2 parent white family is declining as a percentage of population. Thier clients need to get with the program and start marketing to the “new” demographic of NAM’s and single mothers. That the ad agencies themselves are staffed with trendy, artsy types, many of who of alternative sexuality, no doubt contributes to this marketing mentality.

    The problem with basing an advertizing strategy purely on raw demographics is that most sports fans are (now older) masculine white males who have a somewhat more tradtional outlook on life. Alienate these fans and the revenues will slowly decline (as we are seeing).

    Another factor, as you say, is the skill level of play is declining as well. Games and key players are also “fixed” in the NBA as well. The NBA games are more intended to show off the flashiness of the favorite players more than anything else.

    • I’m a young millennial and I’ve never watched a Sunday game. Even the big sports fans in my cohort talk about hockey. Any discussion about sports is either Madden, if my age, or college sports, if my Dads age.

    • Not so sure about the loss of masculinity. My boys all lift and shoot, but don’t watch sportsball. Used to. Dropped it gradually. Found out basketball was fixed. College coaches are crooks, players are allowed to cheat, and do. And What’s so masculine about pink shoes and uniforms in the NFL when a player can’t even wear a non-approved article of clothing? The owners cut off the balls of the players back in the 1980’s, and we’ve been watching pansies flit around on the field ever since.

      That last sentence brings up an issue perhaps missed by many people, but a few do mention it: uniform corporate culture. When the NFL began to mandate what players could wear they not only limited the endorsement possibilities of the players, but that is when the freedom of expression of the players came under corporate control. This kneeling thing is a way of corporate allowing the players to express themselves without encroaching on product placement. The players think they are getting something out of the deal. What they are getting is less personal value when it comes to trades and new contracts. The owners are merely allowing the players the right to devalue themselves. In this way a player is like a college professor. The one who has all kinds of federal grants attached to himself personally can uproot from one college and go to another with added prestige of automatic tenure, full professorship, a chair in his name, and even take his research staff with him. Players do this with their endorsement potentials. Ad revenues will go up in comminities based on a few personalities who show up in ads. In this case the commuinty is the analogy of the college.

      Colleges and teams will put up with and take advantage of star value when they have to, but they prefer a situation where the brand is the most imortant thing. Think back to the battle between Staubach and Landry. The system was the thing. Now it is the corporation.To a certain extent it is corporatization that is killing spectator sports. The tendency to turn everything into a turnkey standardized operation. NASCAR vehicles are all standardized. No player is allowed to wear non-standard issue clothing in sports. This even extends now to what used to be the free-wheeling circus of the UFC.

      Standardization and control, like HR departments, are demasculinizing influences in sports and corporate culture. No one wants stallions pulling their plows. Geldings make straighter rows.

      • I agree with everything you say. However, it reinforces my point about declining masculinity. Your boys are the exception that proves the rule. If they don’t watch ballsports, there is no hope of anyone else of their generation watching ballsports.

        As for me, I don’t even have TV service any more (I cut the cable when I moved two years ago). The few times I’ve watched the telly in hotel rooms while traveling has made clear that I am not missing out on much. I mostly read books and do internet and occasionally watch Youtube videos.

        • My feeling is the less a young man’s sense of self, his masculine identity so to speak, is predicated on him worshiping another man, or groups of men, the closer he moves toward more manly behaviors. I think maybe these young folks having never been interested in sports in the first place is a good thing.

          I was a big baseball and football fan in my previous, more cucked, existence. I owned merch and everything (caps, t-shirts, mugs, towels, etc). A couple of years ago I realized I had not one fuck left to give about sports, and I jettisoned all that shit. I have always been an avid lifter and shooter, so those passions will be a part of my life until I am no longer able to participate.

  37. Your intuitions are correct. The decline is mostly the result of increasing diversity and the corresponding decline in social capital. There is always a certain amount of risk involved in attending large public events and that risk is now increased. Also, diversity reduces the fun of participating in a group activity with other members of one’s tribe.

  38. Can’t help ya, Z.

    My whole shitlib family were avid sportzball fans and I grew up wondering what in hell was wrong with me. If there is any difference between professional organized sport and the WWF wrestling franchise – the difference is purely conversational. The players are pretty much all a-holes, and the commentators and paparazzi are even worse. I’m simply shocked that sportzball didn’t collapse long ago.

    If I missed something please enlighten me…

    • “The players are pretty much all a-holes,”

      In the college I got my first taste of high profile athletes and coaches. The arrogance just radiated from many of them and it limited the appeal of sports for me from that point on

  39. Z, when I read your blog and listen to your podcast (yup, a two-fer), it’s as if I am listening to my more erudite doppelganger. Based on what you have revealed of your personal stats, I am a decade older, and experienced most of your various epiphanies a while ago, but damn, the parallels are remarkable. I turned my back on professional sports after moving from Pittsburgh (about the time the “Steel Curtain” rang down for the last time), and haven’t followed the football follies of my alma mater (Notre Dame for pete’s sake!) for even longer. Big money has corrupted sports-world and pretty much everyone coming in contact with it. Of course, what has happened in that arena is merely a microcosm of the overarching societal decay in which we find our selves attempting to stay afloat. Nonetheless, keep up the good work; we need you.

  40. Supply sometimes does create demand and that is what happened in sports.

    Supply always creates its own demand. Say’s Law for the winner.

  41. Leagues have played around with the salary cap (in a quest for “parity” as they like to call it–so we have fewer super-teams and “everybody has a chance”) and this had made it hard for teams to have stability with personnel. Hard for fans to bond with a team when they have let a star player walk every couple of years because of salary considerations. Then you get players making handshake agreements (Miami Heat) to join together to form super-teams anyway and you still have the original problem.

    A lot of people don’t realize that TV sports didn’t used to be such a big deal. The NBA Finals were often shown tape-delayed, not live, in many markets in the 1970s. Gen Xers and younger have lived through a boom period of spectator sports. Maybe we are returning to a more normal level of interest.

  42. When Southern high schools and colleges begin to lose interest in football, you’ll know a sea change is coming.

    • The Wall Street Journal article pointed out that Texas A&M has one of the highest gaps between tickets “distributed” and tickets used.

    • Already happening. Whites in urban areas are abandoning football. Not so much in rural areas. Diversity ruins everything plus overblown concussion fears.

      • Football will be returning to a style of play seen in rugby/Australian rules. Or perhaps it will be played with robots. The CTE evidence is damning, only the non-contact kicker/punter are probably unaffected. The NFL paid out a large settlement, and in time I expect the NCAA will as well. What does mystify me is that lacrosse is seen as a replacement, despite the evidence showing that lacrosse causes just as many concussions.

        • Not to be harsh, but the risk of concussion is the price these gorillas pay for being paid millions of dollars to play a ball game. Some of these players are probably otherwise unemployable, in any field. So I don’t want to hear about risks of concussion. Lots of jobs have ill effects on a person’s health and they don’t come with multi-million dollar salaries.

          • The point is that parents aren’t going to let to Junior into high school football if it might fuck up his brain, since he is almost certain to not become a millionaire gorilla and will need all his cognitive capacity intact. That dries up the talent pool the NFL ultimately draws from.

          • That’s where you are wrong. Many, if not most, of the NFL players come from poor backgrounds and their (usually single) parents supported, nay encouraged and pushed, their dreams of getting to the NFL. Why? Because the parent was usually an ill-educated single mother (occasionally two parents) working a minimum wage+ city government job. The entire family struggles to survive in the shittiest urban or suburban environments. Having a son with much higher than average athletic skills is a ticket out of that situation. And if he just makes it to the NFL for a season or two, the parents will still have gotten out of the ghetto. Don’t believe me? Watch the televised NFL combines and draft announcements.

      • I teach at a huge affluent industrial high school that churns out little rote memory robots like crazy. We hardly have any numbers in football now due to the concussion fear. We also have a large dot and oriental population and the closest they get to a football field is the marching band. People are also pulling the plug on big-time youth sports, too expensive, too many injuries, no family time, and too darn organized!

        • Had a son on one of those “travelling” soccer teams for a while. It became obvious that the teams were set up primarily for coaches kids and the few natural stars they had. Encouraged him to not re-up for the next year. All of a sudden he became important. They needed the body. That’s all.

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