Thursday, October 4, 2007

Reality Bites – The Big Business of Sports; the Baseball Offseason & Fan Accessibility…


While I am here watching the Yankees get thumped by the Indians, I often check out the other blogs out there in the universe, and one of the best out there is the Nats320 Blog done by a Washington Nationals season ticket holder who has unbridled passion for the team and attends virtually every game.

This week, he added an impassioned entry to his blog about the ticket availability for the post-season, TV programming and how MLB caters to their supporters, VIP’s, lawyers and corporate partners.

I agree with most of he says; however, the reality of sports today it is driven by almighty dollar, big business and not “biting the hand that feeds you”.

I work for a defense contractor, and one of the biggest companies in the world as an IT consultant/site director. A few years ago, I was able to attend plenty of Washington Wizards game as fan, sit in a corporate box, eat free food, have all the drinks and have team officials greet us, even though I am nobody.

I have been able to attend games at Camden Yards and Robert F. Kennedy Stadium on behalf of clients, and friends who work for firms in which I have been able to sit in boxes, and premier seating.

Why? The company spent hundreds of thousands for a suite and seats; as well, they have bought some ads space from the club.

Being a fan is one thing, being a corporate partner is another.

Here are bits and pieces of his entry, “Post Season Sham”. Like I said it’s a great read, but the reality of big money sports trumps any loyalty from a team’s biggest fan.

“What you can be assured of though--is that Major League Baseball will take advantage of all the best fans in each and every playoff bound city.

As well documented in today's Washington Post--Major League Baseball allows The Television Networks to control the entire game schedule. Never is the best interest of the game considered. Only, the High & Mighty Dollar. Sure, losing control of your product to television has gone on for years, but never to the extent exhibited for Fall, 2007. That's why so many off days are set for The 2007 Division, League Championship and World Series Games this fall. The Integrity of Baseball DOES NOT MATTER to MLB, Fox or TBS. Its more important to get advertisers, the Green Backs--than it is to force playoff teams to win with what got them to the post season--their entire rosters …”


“MLB gives those GIFT SEATS To THEIR Favorites--The Big Money. While Each Playoff Team gives Their Favorite Fans the Big Shove--farther away the field. No, it does not matter that you may well have attended every game. All that matters is that you do not sponsor Major League Baseball. As a fan for Your Team--you are just the little guy. In the whole scheme of things--fans don't really matter in the playoffs.”

I have been to attend a World Series, several concerts and several playoff games in baseball and basketball thanks to good luck, connections, and spending a few bucks out of my wallet.

The teams who are in the playoff make a killing from the postseason through TV, concessions and whatever else; thus, I have had to at times to fork out two, three, four times what I would ordinarily spend at an event. I’m going to the American League Division Series in Boston for Game Two (if they make it), and I had to pay double for what my seats would have ordinarily cost in Boston.

I entered the post-season lottery, and was able to win a chance to purchase tickets.

Why? Because money talks. The corporations, sponsors, lawyers and whomever else get all the good seats because money talks. TBS is in business not only to show programming but to make money, and hopefully lots of it.

Sadly, Major League Baseball is in control of it all – thus, as long as the Yankees and Red Sox make the postseason, expect to see them in primetime, all the time.

Greed has always sold, and if you want an even more disgusting case of it, check out the whole hoopla with the popular singer of the “Tween Set”, Hannah Montana, aka Miley Cyrus, daughter of country artist, Billy Ray Cyrus.

Another quote:

Yet, that issue is not as bad as How Major League Baseball treats the BEST FANS for each and every Post Season Team. First, not only do many games go late into the night (for TV purposes)--many of The BEST SEATS at each and every Playoff Game are taken over by Major League Baseball and their Corporate Sponsors. It why you see the constant silliness of Fox showing their Prime Time Lineup Stars sitting near the field. Its why you see so many NOT WEARING the Home Team Colors of the Playoff Game at Hand.

Sadly, it’s all about the money. However, I went to the All-Star Game as a fan and there’s one thing I noticed – the people that had the good seats were San Francisco Giant fans. Why? Well, Major League Baseball and the franchise fought tooth and nail for the season ticket or charter seat holders to maintain the rights to purchase their seats for the All-Star Game.

When it comes down to it, it’s up to the club to protect the interests of their fans verses the interest of baseball.

There should be little secret as to why salaries so high, ticket prices keep going up, and everything is more expensive than it was 5, 10, 15, 20 years ago.

In America today, there are many fans, including families who can only go to a handful of games a year, if even one, because these days with the price of tickets, food, parking and souvenirs, some people would have to make a difficult choice between fandom or paying bills, food & clothes.

I am no in way, shape or form defending Major League Baseball and it’s business practices; however, it is what is, with revenues, attendance, sponsorship higher than it ever has been, the powers that be hold all the cards – it’s all about access, and much like in politics, entertainment, corporate America and in life, those who are the wealthiest on whole tend to get the furthest and get to places the average person could never dream of.

Heck, in Yankee Stadium or at AT&T Park in San Francisco, you cannot even get up close to the players, see batting practice or get autographs, a rite of passage in baseball, unless you can get a seat up close. Folks, that costs money – sometimes an exorbitant amount for a lot of people. Plus, a lot of Red Sox have it bad in order to get a precious chance to see their heroes.

That sadly extends to sports, no matter how much personal or emotional investment one puts in.

I don’t see the MLB Postseason as a sham, but a way to make money – lots of it and get people exited for an event that in the grand scheme of things is a very small part of someone’s individual life.

Well, if the postseason is a sham, the Super Bowl is armed robbery, the NBA All-Star Game is a beatdown, and golf events are akin to stealing your identity.

Money always talks, and big-money sports are a huge enterprise. Access to be part of it, and to have the intimate experience is all about the green and connections.


ian said...

So true. Great stuff Anthony.

Nothing about fans from other cities entering and winning the postseason lottery. /sarcasm

Just kidding. Enjoy the game if you go.

Maryland Orioles' Fan said...

Ian, that was low :) - Hey, I have bought Sox tickets online before. So what if I am 7 or so hours away from the Boston.

I mentioned that incident because it shows how silly the issue is, and if you're willing to spend the money, you have exclusive access to something.

Now, I get to say "hey Mom, I was at Game Two Boston", rather than watching it from my bedroom and it only cost me a good of money for a single night.

Seriously, it is sickening how expensive sports are and being a fan is. MLB has to take care of Baby Ruth; however, it's not like the person who puts the wrappers on the bars is seeing the game -- it's the CEO or their big time marketing reps.

ian said...

That was a total joke. I know you have bought tickets before. You're the 2nd person from out of the area I know to have gotten tickets while us locals are stuck watching the bad announcers on TBS. If I had gotten the chance I would have paid the money. I went to the Yanks-Rangers back in 1998 but that was only because my ex was a Skanks fan or was she the skank. I forget. Seriously have fun and take lots of pics. And by chance you can't make it, I know someone (me) who will take the ticket off your hands. :D

I honestly thought the postseason lottery has been more of a way to get email addresses. With what you're saying, I'm surprised there's even tickets to give out at Fenway.

There has to be some pissed off season ticket holders in Boston because you know alot were given to dignitaries or people who spent a lot of money with the club.

I totally agree how expensive it is to be a fan. Just to go to a game you have parking costs, the ticket and food. That could easily be over a 100 bucks for one person. Then if you decide to buy any souvenirs. Forget about it.

I'm happy saving money watching the game at home.

Maryland Orioles' Fan said...

Interesting. Did Sox have fans have the right to purchase postseason tickets before anyone else? If we were a Sox had to compete with someone from another region of the country for tickets, I'd be steamed too.

Actually, I was shocked too. I have been able to get Yankee postseason ticket literally a few minutes after they have gone on sale in the past, but never with Boston.

Amazingly, Arizona had tickets available for all the events, as did Colorado.

I think the whole postseason is just a game to extent -- to build interest, get your information to send you more crap, instill hope to get tickets and make a few fans lucky.

ian said...

I got an email to register for ALDS tickets by a certain date. Then after that one ended, I got another email to register for ALCS tickets. So it was basically open to the general public anywhere.

With the Yanks you have to remember one thing, there are more seats at Yankee stadium then there are at Fenway. At least 20,000 to be exact.

Maryland Orioles' Fan said...

Hmm, that's interesting. So loyal Red Sox season ticket holders have to compete with the general public for post-season tickets?


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