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.