Friday, December 22, 2006

Breaking the Fourth Dimension of Greed

It's become worse than a cliche to complain about the overcommercialization of everything in America. After awhile, you can begin to sound a little like NYU prof
Mark Crispin Miller, the hyperarticulate if sometimes humorless scold who long ago became an all-purpose media go-to guy on the subject. But I found myself in particular agreement with a recent column by Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly, who knows a tipping point when he sees one.

It happened when I was halfway through my Raisin Bran. My spoon plopped into my bowl and my forehead clunked down hard on the table and my arms hung like Hebrew Nationals at my side. And what was I reading when the end came? This: The Chicago White Sox will start their home games next season at 7:11 p.m. And do you know why they're going to start their games at 7:11 p.m? Because they signed a three-year deal with 7-Eleven for a half-million dollars a season. Yes, the Chicago White Sox found a way to sell their game time. That was it. That broke it. My switch toggled over to I Give Up. There was no fighting it anymore. For years now, I've slobbered and screamed against selling our sense of place (Mile High Stadium is now Invesco Field. Yeeesh), our history (remember the Suzuki Heisman Trophy? Yikes!) and even our sacred moments of utter jubilation ("I'm going to Disneyland!" Yuck). But now we're through the looking glass, people. These evil geniuses have found a way to sell time. They've broken the dreaded fourth dimension of greed.

For an archive of Reilly's always-thoughtful columns, go here (unfortunately, it's subscriber-only. On the other hand, if you're a sports fan and an admirer of good writing, you could make a lot worse investment this holiday season for yourself or a loved one than a subscription to SI, which continues to fight the good fight for quality, serious, long-form narrative journalism).

UPDATE: The incomparable Seth Godin explains why one advertiser (Verizon) is tremendously short-sighted to scratch for the last dollar in ad revenue while simultaneously pissing away its customers' precious goodwill.


At 12:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reilly is so right! a while back I heard an NPR comedy scetch in which the announcers labeled every call, every minute part of a baseball game as being sponsored by a company - that fly ball courtesy of..., this strike brought to you by... You get the picture. I laughed at the time, but this past year noticed that I was hearing very nearly the same thing during sports broadcasts - not in a tongue-in-cheek manner, but business-like and matter of fact.

So...this holiday greeting is brought to you by Saul's Hanukkah lights, who brings light to Ohio, one menorah at a time. Connie Mayse

At 10:42 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

How nice to see you commenting here. Welcome. I quite agree with you. First, we had broadcasters loading up games with every possible moment devoted to commercials. That was one thing. But in recent years, the games themselves are stuffed with commercial moments, which has become a major turnoff. But the thing that REALLY gets me is how now, all of a sudden, when you go to a movie, after forking over $8 at least, you have to sit through a series of at least a half dozen commercials before the previews (which of course are themselves commercials). It's getting pretty ridiculous.


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