More Texas

Sitting in the stands of a rodeo in Forth Worth is like going back in time. I’ve been to the rodeo and I’ve watched the event on TV so I understand the basics. In all honesty, I find it a bit dull so while I’m sitting there watching girls ride horses around barrels, I’m thinking of other things. My friends, who had never been to a rodeo, were captivated. To them, it was incredible watching humans ride animals with such skill.

Chit chatting about it after, I think the big attraction to rodeo for many folks is that it reminds them of a better age. The rodeo is wholesome family entertainment. There’s no sex or crude jokes. There’s no hip-hop music blasting from speakers. It’s just wholesome looking young people, corny jokes and a good time. Cheap too. Tickets to a rodeo are nothing compared to a football game.

That’s what makes it feel like a trip back in time. For most of human history, entertainments were relatively cheap. Entertainers lived on the fringes of society and made very modest livings. Maybe the showman who owned the circus or traveling act made a good living, but the performers did not. Running away to join the circus was not a move up, it was giving up. If you could not hack it in normal life you ended up as the bearded lady in the circus.

Contrast that to today where we venerate knuckleheads with the IQ of a goldfish and shower them with millions. In order to do that the cost of entertainment has skyrocketed. I was at the Dallas Cowboy game on Sunday and the prices are staggering. Cheap seats are $500 just to get in the door. The facility, which is incredible, is simply a massive platform from which to sell you stuff.

That’s what’s incredible to me. Everything has a sponsor. “This hot dog concession stand brought to you by AT&T” is the sort of thing that makes me think the Catholics were right about cupidity being a mortal sin. Every square inch of the Cowboy facility has a sponsor attached to it and almost every square inch is for the purpose of moving product of some sort. You keep wondering, “Don’t they have enough?’

That excess allows the Cowboys to pay their star defensive end millions of dollars, even though he spends his free time beating and strangling women. You only do that when you have so much, you feel you are immune from public opinion. Hearing the crowd cheer when that demented knucklehead made  big play, I’m going to assume the paying portion of the public is OK with wife beating.

I’m sure many rodeo entertainers are terrible people. That’s just a part of life. My guess is though, public knowledge of bad behavior ends your rodeo career unless you also get right with Jesus. The customers will look the other way if you are turning your life around after getting drunk and running naked through the streets. Otherwise, there’s probably not a lot of tolerance for it.

In a weird way, people enjoy things like the rodeo now because it lets them escape the wall of sound that is modern mass culture. The whole downtown Forth Worth area feels like it exist as an escape. People dress in their cowboy clothes and have an old fashioned good time. I was at a bar in Fort Worth and it was just cheap drinks and people dancing to country music, like they used to in the old days.

That’s the other thing that popped into my head comparing a night in Fort Worth to the day at Jerry World. In today’s mass media culture, everyone is assumed to be a child. At the football game, it is nonstop noise and video. Between plays they are hitting you with some ad or speech. In breaks for commercials, they hammer the audience with messages. You don’t have a minute to talk to the guy next to you. They assume you must be amused for every second like a toddler.

The infantilization at a modern ballpark extends everywhere. Buy a beer and they open the container and keep the cap. I guess they don’t want you to swallow it. The container is made from something that prevents it from being a projectile, in case you have a tantrum. Of course, they shut off beer sales half way through events so you don’t have too many. The modern sporting even is the nanny state taken to the logical conclusion.

All that said, Texas is a great place to visit. I’ll have more thoughts on it when I return back to the Imperial Capital.


13 thoughts on “More Texas

  1. Pingback: Wednesday morning links - Maggie's Farm

  2. The players make millions off of endorsements. The owners get their multi million dollar stadium financed by the taxpayers. Companies pay millions to get their advertising on the game telecast.

    Getting a seat at the damn ball game ought to be free. (I guess it is if you’re at home watching it on TV.)

  3. BTW….as to the general societal infantilization………

    There was a fight after Friday’s Mets-Dodgers game. One guy was in critical (dunno his status now) but 9 of 10 comments contain some sort of invective against drink: “Drunk fans!, stupid boozers!, They should prohibit beer sales!”, etc.

    You want to grab these neo-Carrie Nations and scream “It’s not just the alcohol, goddammit! It’s assholish behavior! These people are assholes, beer or no beer! How come 999 out of 1000 have no issues?

  4. $500 just to get in the door? If that was actually the case it must have been because the Cowboys were playing the Patriots. I checked the prices for a couple other games and for the Jan 3 game against the Redskins seats can be purchased via resale for under $100.

  5. I’m sorry, but to me there is not a sporting spectacle on the planet that is worth $500 a seat. I don’t care if the seat is on the sideline right next to one of the coaches.

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  7. I hope people don’t think what you described pertains only to one or two teams. It’s as bad or worse at the rest of them. In DC you have to pay a high price to park, and parking is deliberately placed at a distance that you have to pay a high price for transport to the stadium. It is deemed “unsafe” to walk.

  8. I grew up playing all American sports, excelled at most. Now I can’t stand them, the people have changed the game and the fans have changed the players. Everything is over the top to such an extent that the spectacle overshadows the game. The last Football (or most any) athlete I had respect for is Barry Sanders of the Detroit Lions, what a class (and classic) act. Most players dress and act like delinquents, money doesn’t matter to me, if a player makes millions god bless him for that. Simply play the game and if you’re really good people will notice your skill and determination, not your vulgar chest thumping end zone dance .

  9. I watch football (soccer, if you must) on two levels: I watch my 9 year-old grandson’s team and go to professional games as a fan. The kids play in parks or open spaces and because they are kids you encourage them all, politely applauding when anyone scores even if it puts your grandson’s team down. One can even (as I did the other day) have a word with some young opposition player and recommend how they might improve their game — though this one bit me as the kid duly did exactly what I suggested later on and scored against ‘my team.’ So it goes, because it is all about helping the young get more out of life.

    But when it comes to the pro game… Sorry, but the other part of me comes out, especially taunting the opposition fans — just as they taunt my team. It’s all part of the experience. Enjoying the opposition’s misery is central to the fun. But then they are supporting highly paid players (who hopefully are failing to do what they should) and as such they have to take it on the chin.

  10. $500 for cheap seats? Things must be going pretty well for Americans! No wonder universities can charge what they do for what they provide. I just can’t get my head around paying that much to watch lugheads run into each other. I tip my hat though to organisations for getting people to willingly fork out that much.

  11. When visiting family in Utah I make a point of a trip to the rodeo,as an Englishman the whole experience of the night sums up what I love about America.

  12. One of the questions that often occupies my mind is whether the atmosphere of the modern arena/stadium will eventually trump my enjoyment of live sporting events. The noise level is painful- football, pro hockey (although college hockey in many places is the same) and basketball are the worst- baseball’s plenty bad, but not as bad as the aforementioned three. Football (and full disclosure here, I’m not a huge football guy) has the additional problem of the amazing number of stoppages- for commercials, mostly. I’m thinking my price point for a pro football game is about $500- $1000, that is to say that’s what you’d have to pay me to go. I’d also add the fact that many of these palaces are built with huge amounts of public investment. ( Don’t know about Jerry’s playpen) I’m mostly opposed to giving government money to poor people- I’m definitely opposed to giving it to rich owners.

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