Stop Trying To Sell Me Stuff

Over Labor Day I was at the Boston College – UMass football game. The crowd was small, maybe 30K, but it could have been less. It was a “home game” for UMass so the Boston College fans were maybe half the crowd. Labor Day in Boston is not a great time to hold a sporting event, but for some reason they did it anyway.

The small crowd meant I could get the full marketing blast from the people who run the sports facility. That means the blasting of music, video ads everywhere and constant haranguing by the public address man to pay attention to a sponsor. I think even toilet breaks were brought to us by some corporate sponsor.

This is why live sporting events struggle to maintain attendance. Across all sports attendance is flagging. Sports marketing people always think more is better, so we get more and more marketing. More video boards. More screaming PA guys. More rock music. More side crap to draw our attention away from the game to pay attention to something or other brought to us by MegaCorp. The argument in favor of this is that sitting at home has become so good, they have to make going to the game like home, but with more ads. Always more ads.

I had club seats for the game so we went inside to avoid being screamed at by the PA guy and the deafening rock music. I asked someone about this nonsense and they told me that young people like it. That’s the catch all of all marketing campaigns. Young people like it. There’s never any evidence of this, but marketing people always say it.

The fact that young people have no money is never mentioned. No one ever points out that the blaring music is thirty years old and the young people make sport of it when outside of earshot. But, it’s hardly the point. The point is no area of daily life can be free of marketing.

No matter what it is, if people like it, the dreary dickheads from the business schools will demand they ruin it with ads no one watches. This letter to the editor in the Roanoke Times gets to the heart of the matter. Being told by some dimwit when to cheer and where to look is insulting. Adults can tolerate a little of it, but there are limits.

The same is true of the barrage of ads. Everyone gets that marketing dollars are a part of the business. The teams cannot live on the billions in ticket and merchandise sales, so they have to “leverage” their fan base in order to “monetize” the popularity of their sport and maximize their market position.

It used to be that commercial TV had ads because the service was free. You got the free service because they got to sell airtime to people trying to sell you stuff. Pay cable was supposed to be commercial free. Now it is not only packed with ads, they sell your personal data to marketing firms who use it to sell you crap on your phone or your browser. The whole racket now is to get you to pay them to send you ads. Sports fans are rationally forgoing the attendance costs because they can at least change the channel when the ads are jammed in their face during the game if they on their couch.

This is how it goes when everything is based on the madness of growth. It’s not enough to be a stable, profitable business. You can’t because the people in charge are systematically eroding those profits with currency manipulation. Your costs keep going up because your money keeps losing value. In 1984, I could get into the Red Sox game and have a beer for $10.00. The ticket was $6 for a bleacher seat and a beer was $3.50. If I did not want a beer, I could get a couple of dogs and maybe a coke, if I had some change. Adjust for inflation and that ten bucks gets half a beer today, as long as it is domestic. At the football game over Labor Day, I paid ten bucks for a slice of pizza.

That means everyone all the time has to be raising prices, lowering value and finding new customers. Big operations like football teams have to charge for everything. Breathing will soon be taxed. We’re not far from the day when the toilets will have credit card readers. The other option will be standing their watching ads while you wait for the hopper. Before you can sit, you’ll have to fill out a marketing survey.

This has to end. By that I mean, it cannot go on like this forever. I’m saturated. I can take no more. Even those with a higher threshold for this stuff have a finite amount of time and money. The stone will run out of blood eventually. Then what?


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9 years ago

I have now developed a skill which allows me to ignore much of the advertising thrown at me. I can click off pop-up ads without ever knowing the product. I can read blogs and articles and never scan the sidelines for ads. I have many presets on my car radio and always change the station when being hit up with ads. I stopped listening to Hannity on the radio because there are more ads than content. When ads are particularly obnoxious, I make a mental note to not buy their products. Side note; years ago Toyota had the most obnoxious… Read more »

9 years ago

I have nothing against soccer (football). I detest American soccer fans. They are what you guys would call “wankers” or worse.

American sports teams are getting ready to festoon their uniforms with ads too. Our World Series will probably one day feature the Azerbaijan Red Sox versus the New Mexico City Dodgers. New Mexico City will be what “we” renamed Los Angeles.

9 years ago

You may not like what you call soccer, but football as British fans know it has been slowly squeezed the same way. The sport remains, despite the attendance of celebrities and politicians wanting to be seen to be part of the common herd, a working class interest. But even in areas of low employment and social limitation the marketing machine grinds on without check. The team I follow is ‘sponsored’ by another country: the shirts are emblazoned with ‘Azerbaijan: Land of Fire’ but you can bet very few of the team’s fans would even remotely think of going there rather… Read more »

james wilson
james wilson
9 years ago

Yeah. You probably don’t cooperate with waves either.

The Fenway bleachers were a buck in ’67. Conigliaro’s swearing in Italian was free. The organ between innings and the PA announcing at bats, that was about it. That was also the last year you could walk up at game time and get a ticket in any section. Or talk to the players.

Gil Hodges told a story of how the players knew the regular fans by name back in the day in Brooklyn. Pros and cons, I guess. The last time I visited Fenway I paid 40 for standing room.