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?