What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
Ideas are the very fabric of innovation. While that line sounds awfully deep for a silly-ass sports blog, it is nonetheless painfully true. Without ideas, as a race we humans would have nothing to do and would spend even more time masturbating. Take we writers of this piece for example. If it weren’t for modern progress borne of ideas, Meehan wouldn’t be selling cell phones at the mall; his days would consist of screaming at bus stops. Meanwhile, instead of working for a company that deals with trains, J-Dub would probably just spend all day banging on stuff with a big rock.
The world of sports has been the beneficiary of many of great ideas, some of which we take advantage of on an almost weekly basis. The reinstatement of the two-point conversion in the NFL allows for a wider range of one-possession games, and home-field advantage of the World Series being decided by the winner of the All-Star game is something that has helped that otherwise worthless contest develop into something that has some type of value.
But let’s be honest; not all ideas are good ones. One of the biggest pitfalls of capitalism is the fact that the more money you have, the more inclined people are to listen to your dumb ideas. Some of what we are about to discuss is the result of such financial muscle-flexing, which is exactly why the stupidity in them gets masked. That’s precisely why we need to examine a series of terrible sports ideas which thankfully have yet to materialize. But be warned…somewhere out there, there is some stupid rich guy dying to make this shit happen.
1) Playing the World Series at a Neutral Site
This idea came from the head of Jerry Colangelo who cooked up this doozy while he was still the owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Colangelo wanted to have every World Series in one place so that it would be easier to to plan large-scale events around the games just like the Super Bowl does, and it just so happened he wanted to do this in Phoenix when his ballpark in Arizona was brand new.
It was clearly an attempt to make himself a shitload of money, but it really isn’t hard to understand the idea behind it (other than the “making money” part…)
It was no accident was the idea of making the World Series into a Super Bowl-style event. Sure, baseball is clinging to its’ “National Pastime” title, but let’s be honest. The Super Bowl has become a de facto national holiday. The attraction in creating another massive cultural moment is obvious. The NFL’s coronation of its champion has long-passed the World Series as the biggest sporting event in this country. There’s a narrative out there which says baseball is declining in popularity, which is only partially true. Baseball is no longer a nationally popular sport, but is is as strong as ever in certain regions. Despite all that, baseball still retains a large and loyal fan base.
This is why the “neutral site” World Series is a terrible idea. In every major sport except the NFL, the other three major sports’ championships all end in a seven-game series, which is too long of a time to get people to pack up and travel to Arizona. With television concerns, that could be anywhere from five days to a well over a week. Then there’s the matter of handling flights and hotel reservations for the crowds for those “if necessary” Games 5, 6, and 7.
Another problem with this idea is that a neutral site World Series will quickly become very Super Bowl-like in its attendees; meaning the “working class fans” who can’t take a week and a half off from their jobs won’t be at these games. The World Series will quickly become a collection of the “wine and cheese” crowd, and that will be death for this event. A major component that draws the casual fans to the World Series are the impassioned home-field crowds.
Yet another problem with the “neutral site” idea; it totally screws those loyal hometown fans. Baseball depends on it’s loyal fan base, and it would be taking a giant shit on them to take away those home games in October. Can you imagine what a buzz-kill it would have been for Kansas City Royals fans this past year to have waited damn near thirty years for a World Series, then not to be able to enjoy that scene taking place in Royal Stadium?
Not to mention, that’s also a big problem for the franchises themselves. A HUGE part of the rewards of getting to the post-season in baseball is the revenue stream that presents itself once your team is playing in October. Both the opportunities to sell stuff and the prices therein sky-rocket. You can sell much more in terms of hats, shirts, key chains, all sorts of other souvenir bullshit, and the prices for the stuff you already sell goes up. You can double the price of parking and concessions and get away with it. Then, there’s the pinnacle of Markup Mountain…post-season tickets sales. You know that for years, the Royals were selling those outfield seats out by the waterfall that are closer to the freeway than home plate for $10 or less, but the minute we hit October, those went for at least $35. As long as this concept involves screwing the fans and the franchises, it will never come to fruition.
2) Having the Super Bowl in Another Country
As we just mentioned, the Super Bowl is an event about Americans, by Americans, and for Americans. I don’t know how many times we have to say this, but the Super Bowl is now a part of American culture. As such, Americans do not change for the sake of anything “international.” There’s a reason we don’t use the Metric system, there’s reason why we tax the shit out of foreign cars, and there’s a reason why we don’t drink beer at room temperature. We like what we want, and we want what we like, period.
Now, let’s understand why this idea came about. The United Kingdom is seen as the next frontier in North American sports expansion; the only other serious option is Mexico (we’ll deal with that later). But the fact remains the NFL still has this Europe fantasy even though they had to euthanize NFL Europa a few years back. That’s just one reason this idea is just a darker shade of stupid.
The big reason why the UK figures prominently in the NFL expansion fantasies is that it eliminates the language problem. Despite the fact that we Yanks and those Limeys both think the others talk funny, we still speak the same language. By the time NFL Europa was put out of its misery, it had five teams in Germany. In terms of education fans, that presented the problem of language on top of sport-specific jargon. Were it that easy, we would have heard people all across Germany the Monday after the Super Bowl saying shit like “Was dachte Pete Carroll? Ist He zurückgeblieben oder verrückt?”
Language is just one problem. The other is time. Currently, the Super Bowl kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Eastern U.S. time, the reason being so the game still starts at a reasonable drinking hour on the West Coast. Hosting this game in London presents the problem of the UK being five hours ahead of New York. That means to preserve this timeline, a Super Bowl in the UK would have a kick-off time of 11:30 p.m. local time. That’s simply not going to work for getting the locals to buy tickets, and the last thing the NFL wants is a Super Bowl with WNBA-level attendance. A Super Bowl with a stadium full of fans disguised as empty seats would have Americans throwing Buffalo wings at their flat-screens.
That raises another interesting point. Does the NFL really think that expanding to Europe will offset the loss of Americans paying $8,000 for tickets? But, we digress. Let’s get back to the logistical problem here; time.
Adjusting the kick-off so that the Super Bowl would start at a suitable hour in England means a start time no later than 8 p.m. local time. That means a 3 p.m. Eastern U.S. start, which also means High Noon on the west coast. That simply isn’t going to work, because the networks also want eight hours of pre-game show time during which their advertising rates are at a premium. As far as the American fan is concerned, we need that pre-game time for another reason…drinking heavily. As we’ve already mentioned, Americans like what we want, want what we like, and we want it all when we want it. That’s means there’s going to be no way we will stand for moving the time of the Super Bowl to accommodate a bunch of Europeans. Fuck it, it’s our game and if the Brits want to play along, let them make the accommodations.
The reason for that is actually not just a rampant case of America-centrism. Europe is known for soccer riots; while in America we save our rioting for when piece of shit criminals get what they deserve for being piece of shit criminals. If we wait to until after 9 p.m. start a British Super Bowl, we are just begging for a riot. In order to avoid the “empty seat” problem, the NFL would need to a) give away tickets cheap and b) have an ocean of cheap booze. Let’s be honest, it may not be a guarantee, but we are pretty damn sure the best way to convince the Brits to get interested in what we call football is if we can get them to drink heavily enough to pretend like they understand it. Go to a Super Bowl party; that strategy works with women. Be it a British man or an American woman, once they start telling you how much they like Tim Tebow because he’s such a great free-throw shooter, you’re home free.
3) The Expansion of a Major League into Mexico
20 years ago, the NFL got the biggest crowd it ever had for a game when they packed over 107,000 people into a soccer stadium for a pre-season game in Monterey, Mexico. That’s the genesis of the NFL’s “Mexico” fantasy. The problem is since then, Mexico has degenerated into being little more than Somalia with sombreros. In order to keep any fantasy about Mexico alive, the NFL has to engage in a Karen Carpenter-level sort of denial; something along the lines of “Since we seem to be managing the Mexican drug cartels and their relationship with the police so well from afar, it would only make sense that the perfect thing to do here would be to send a bunch of multi-million dollar athletes south of the border and put them in harm’s way.”
The fact is Mexico is currently a war zone. We are worried about ISIS in places like Syria; but thanks to Mexico, they are already on our southern border. Think about it. In a country where you can run over an entire family of other tourists on vacation, then pay off the police with a couple thousand pesos, why would anybody trust those same “officers of the law” wouldn’t let somebody with a machine gun and a copy of the Koran stuffed down his pants sail right across the border?
Keeping this about sports, Mexico is the Taj Mahal of corruption. So, what we are really talking about here is taking a bunch of sports organizations who all operate with varying levels of corruption and immersing them in a simmering vat of pure, uncut corruption. Think about this for a moment.
It’s hard for us to imagine a world in which a league with such an incredible lack of integrity could get any worse. But think about what happens when there is unfettered access to the cesspool which is the Mexican political system? Imagine what happens when the Seahawks can have unlimited access to Adderall? Think about what happens to a baseball team in a country where steroids aren’t illegal? Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa’s ghost-like ass would have been down there so fast they probably would have forgotten to text Jason Giambi before boarding the plane.
Then there’s the whole gambling angle. The NBA has had it’s point shaving scandals over the years, so something tells us the Mexican mob wouldn’t take more than ten minutes to tell Carlos Boozer if he didn’t brick a few more inside shots, his head would promptly be mailed back to his parents. And yeah, it’s no accident we think the first guy they will pick on is named “Carlos.”
While we’re at it, can we stop pretending that it’s white sportswriters who are keeping this dream alive? Writers of Hispanic descent are the ones who are constantly mentioning globalization, usually arguing that putting professional franchises in Mexico isn’t that much of a risk because it’s taking place on the same content.
What a complete crock of shit.
Think about it. Quebec and Guatemala are also on the same continent, as are North Korea and Thailand. Those places all have cultural differences as wide as you can find between locales like Minneapolis and Guadalajara. Let’s cut to the chase here. The same white sportswriters who keep this idea alive are the same ones who will call any naysayers to this idea “racists.” In other words, it isn’t racist attitudes which are keeping sports out of Mexico; Mexico is what’s keeping sports out of Mexico. Go ahead and tell us that it’s racist to say this, and know that if you plan on doing so, you’re simply playing “head in the sand” about all of the horrifying shit that happens there. Fire away with the hate mail, we love that kind of shit here.
Not to mention, you know that being a place where you can’t drink the water without having your colon explode out of your rectum like those snakes in the joke cans of peanuts doesn’t help either.
4) Contracting One of the Major Sports Leagues
Bud Selig was the one who first floated this idea about baseball about ten years ago, but since then the idea of contraction has been more present in the ever struggling NBA than any other league. This is due to the fact that teams in markets like Toronto, New Orleans, Orlando, and Indianapolis have a problem filling seats. Just like we said about the British Super Bowl, showing arenas full of empty seats is bad for business.
Listen, we don’t have to be standing in a closet full of Atlanta Thrashers jerseys to understand why making a change with a franchise is sometimes necessary. The problem is that the idea behind contraction is flawed. The thinking is that by eliminating unprofitable franchises those teams which make the money for the league will become more valuable because they aren’t paying for the bottom-feeders. The problem with that theory is that the NFL is the only league which has genuine revenue sharing; the other three major sports all have franchises with independent revenue streams with income being somewhat redistributed by some sort of salary cap/luxury tax system.
The difference works like this. In the NFL, there is absolute revenue sharing because the league controls all the television money. That’s not the case in any of the other leagues. That’s why the NFL can have franchises which would never make money on their own, like the Green Bay Packers. That’s also why the NBA and the NHL specifically simply can’t afford too many clubs which don’t contribute to the overall health of the league.
Here’s where it gets tricky. Just because a franchise isn’t profitable in a certain market doesn’t mean it doesn’t generate revenue. This is why eliminating teams is a bad idea because you are eliminating revenue. In other words, getting rid of the Indiana Pacers doesn’t help the Detroit Pistons because:
In all seriousness, the goal here really isn’t drawing fans, albeit that is part of the equation. Rather, the real goal here is to safeguard the value of the capital provided by investors in the league by minimizing risk. If you are an owner, having your franchise eliminated is about the biggest, most costly risk there is. That’s why leagues like the NBA and the NHL really need to look at relocation rather than contraction.
J-Dub explored this topic a while back in regards to the NHL putting a franchise in Seattle. The NHL shares a similar problem with the NBA in the sense that their problem is not the number of teams they have, but where they are.
Again to contrast, The NFL won’t even consider contraction because their model has allowed even low-rent franchises like Jacksonville to be worth upwards of half a billion dollars. On top of that, the NFL also knows it has open markets which could easily support a franchise, the most obvious case being Los Angeles. What’s less obvious is the NBA and the NHL also have open markets as options. Both leagues could easily see a second franchise do well in Chicago. The NBA knows there is a sufficient market for at least one other franchise in southern California. The greater New York market has room for a 4th NHL franchise (and a ready arena in the soon-to-be-remodeled Nassau County Coliseum which will be abandoned by the New York Islanders in favor of the Barclay Center in Brooklyn). And like we said already, there’s still Seattle.
The bottom line is this: You can’t cut your way to profitability. Once you embrace contraction as a solution, then where do you draw the line? As much as that sounds like a “slippery slope” argument, and as stupid as those arguments are because the presume the inability to tell the difference between the first and last in a series of events, it holds water here because no matter what, the act of contraction means sacrificing an asset of value. That line of thinking means eventually everybody will be contracted, because there is no way that having less teams means more revenue. It isn’t the fault of a franchise if it is in the wrong market, so long as the league has the foresight and the guts to allow it to move.
5) Putting a Major League Franchise in Las Vegas
There’s soooooooo many reasons why this is a bad idea, and gambling isn’t even at the top of the list. Las Vegas is a city everybody loves to visit and nobody wants to live in. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the population as of 2013 somewhere in the neighborhood of 600,000. But given this is a city full of topless women coupled with America’s obsession with titties, our Spidey-Sense says that number might be a tad low.
Now, we all know New Orleans has most of what it’s got thanks to it’s liberal attitude concerning the public display of the female breast, so why does that not translate to Las Vegas? It’s all in the types of tits you can see. In New Orleans, Mardi Gras is all about drunk college girls getting beads thrown at them. These are the kind of girls normal guys want (and more importantly) can get. Meanwhile, Vegas is full of those really bad fake tits that squeak like a styrofoam beer cooler when touched; worse yet, some of those tits come on people who don’t have the vaginas to go with them.
That in and of itself tops the gambling argument, but we need to address that as well because it isn’t the same argument it was 30 years ago. Two of Vegas biggest income pillars were slowly dying. Boxing was seeing some of it’s greats retire or turn into guys who wouldn’t look all that out of place as extras in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Horse racing was headed into the shitter and there was no way that city could survive on nickel slot machines on the seedy end of The Strip and the memories of the days when backstage at the Tropicana was never-ending Bacchanalian scene featuring stuff like Betty White riding Don Rickles’ face until he looked like a glazed doughnut with a comb-over.
Then along came sports betting. We know Vegas always has had it’s sports books, but nothing turbo-charged those more than the internet. Once people could gamble on sports from the comfort of their own homes, Vegas was alive again.
So, what does this have to do with a sports franchise in Las Vegas? First of all, You can bet on anything in Las Vegas, sports or otherwise. That means the whole argument about gambling corrupting sports is not only diluted in this case, but its too late. We all know sports in America are corrupt at some level. Then there’s the fact that most sports betting is done by people who know nothing about sports; the action for them is all in placing the bets.
When you consider all of the high-energy shows you can see in Las Vegas, getting people to the games would be almost impossible. With the shows, you know exactly what you are getting for you entertainment dollar, which is another reason why an early November Philadelphia 76ers / Las Vegas MegaSlots game just wont stack up.
There’s also another reason why Vegas survived; it became an escapist fantasy world. One of the great attractions of sports is that matter how shitty your life is, you can tune in a ball game and forget about that for three hours. Well, that’s what this whole “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” thing is all about.
Case in point: We all have that one bitch at our workplace who goes to Vegas every year, despite the fact she’s always talking about how she hates sports and gambling. So what the fuck is she doing there? Escaping from her shitty life. She knows that her boyfriend’s “rap label” will never not be run from his parent’s basement, and she has much chance of getting promoted out of the steno pool as we do of getting elected Pope. But the minute she hits Vegas, she’s snorting blow off a toilet-tank lid and getting in three-ways with Jamaican guys named “Dexter” and “Scooby.” No matter how good they might be, the Las Vegas MegaSlots can’t compete with that.
6) Expansion of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament to 96 or 128 teams
This may easily be the stupidest idea on this list, because it’s the most egregious violation of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…”rule since Michael Jackson discovered plastic surgery. Face it, the 64-team tournament led to the “Bracket,” and the “Bracket” is what made the NCAA Basketball Tournament second only to the Super Bowl in terms of a sporting event in America. For that damn little sheet of paper, there’s three weeks in March when every dickrod in the world is an expert on college basketball.
Now, we could have easily ignored those pointless “play-in” games until VCU made a run all the way to the Final Four from one of those games. That why this “expansion” talk needs to die right now. They need to have everybody playing first-round games on Thursday and Friday so that the 64-team bracket can be preserved, because that is the only fucking reason anybody cares about this tournament.
This is part of this “everyone gets a trophy” mentality that is currently plaguing our culture. It one thing when you do this for 6-year-olds playing T-Ball, but these are college-age people for Christ’s sake. If they are starters, they are likely juniors or seniors, so you know a huge majority of these kids have already “roofied” somebody and got chlamydia for their trouble. They can handle being #65.