As many of you know the NFL is considering An 18-game regular season. At first I hated the idea, but now I seem to like it—or maybe I still hate it. I am torn, but I think I like it, or could come to like it. Here is why.
PITTSBURGH (FFD) - On Wednesday, the Jets fired general manager Mike Maccagnan and gave interim GM powers to coach Adam Gase, who promptly said he didn't want to pay running back Le'Veon Bell, Sports Illustrated stated on its website SI.com this week.
The only thing that comes to my mind is poor Le’Veon Bell. The guy is probably learning firsthand right now the value he gave up by holding out on one of the most revered sports franchises in professional sports and that would be your Pittsburgh Steelers.
Scratch De Reno
PITTSBURGH (FFD) - It’s been a trend for years and it is no major secret that fans are staying home across all the major pro sports leagues in North America, including the NFL—and this is a problem for football nuts like me.
It is a problem for you too, if you enjoy the “gameday experience” of going to the ballpark.
I do. I want my kids to experience it a few times at least before it is completely digitized, augmented, and pumped full of silicon simulations of gameday fun and festivities. There is still value in seeing a game live in all of its glorious inconveniences and acts of human depravity.
Sidestepping a parking lot full of urine puddles, navigating table diving-shirtless slobs, drunkards mooning chartered buses, inebriates screaming into the ears of the fans in front of them until their eardrums explode… You can’t get these experiences in an app.
So here I am Tuesday, catching an update on this disturbing trend, during a drive home while listening to sports talk on Pittsburgh radio. In that regards, I am fan of Mark Madden on 105.7 The X. Only it wasn’t Mark Madden delivering the diatribe but Dejan Kovacevik of DKPittsburghSports.com. He is good too.
Reasons discussed for declining attendance at stadiums included depressing facts that it is far too comfortable for many fans to now watch sporting events from the convenience of one’s tricked-out man cave. Say what? You would trade this experience as opposed to braving the stinky, smelly denizens and harsh elements, the legal challenge of locating a modest pee spot at an under-toileted ballpark.
Part of the gameday experience was that you never knew when you would be exposed to frontal nudity. Part of the gameday experience was the tailgate and the wild fornication of hoary men and loose women. Part of the gameday experience was forgetting the game itself and being part of the “nation”.
Eating well in the parking lot can’t be had on a phone—whether its my phone, your phone or a fucking iPhone.
Staying home is way more comfortable for today’s lazy millennial man. Too freaking comfortable, if you ask me. The old football fan has grown soft like the couch on which he man spreads while passively spreading mayonnaise on cold cut sandwiches.
Several of Dejan’s callers explained that you don’t have to pay for parking if you stay home. They bitched and moaned. You don’t waste a quarter of the game standing in line for food, one caller whined. You don’t even deal with the non-assholes who get mad at the real assholes (like you), screaming over missed opportunities and botched calls.
All valid points. Fuck’ em all the same.
DK cited technology and other distractions and information needs many modern fans have cited as a reason for this decline in putting real butts in the seats at ballparks too. After all, not only is today’s fan cheering for their team, they have fantasy implications going on—digital teams matter.
Oh, for Christ’s sake.
Ballparks have attempted to be accommodating to this new breed of fan by providing them with more information amenities, such as Wi-Fi at the ballpark, and plenty of monitors where one can keep abreast of other sporting interests, even in places where they wait to pee and order food.
All that makes sense, but it still will not prevent the coming gameday disruption that is largely underway already. Soon folks will see little reason to deal with the logistical hassles and costs of attending the game in person.
It doesn’t have to be that way. We can preserve the stink of the gameday experience for those that still want it—albeit in a different way.
The same disruption that automated and connected technologies are having in every industry you can think of are already impacting ballpark attendance and in that regards the gameday experience has been disrupted by millennials that want to consume sports differently.
Screw that to high heaven, I say.
Is it not long before fans will put on a VR headset and watch the game as if they were there? Does that really sound that far-fetched when automated cars deliver groceries and folks around town?
Here is how to save the gameday experience. Don’t support the disrupters by making it easier to distract fans at games, partner with them. Go the way of Bugs Bunny: If you can’t beat’ em, join’ em.
If you can’t join’ em, then fuck’ em all the same.
Yes, you heard that here on The Football Fan’s Diet first. Professional teams need to partner with disrupting companies and alter the gameday experience in way that moves fat butts back down to the ballpark.
Instead of being buddies with racist pizza makers, the NFL needs to hope in the sack with today’s disrupters that are changing about every aspect of the modern world—from transportation to you got it, the gameday experience.
I can think of no better bedfellows for the NFL than knocking boots with Uber or some other ride hailing company.
Fans don’t want to deal with parking—right? Uber and other ride hailing companies have largely dealt with that problem by eliminating it. Call an Uber and skip the parking. However, the problem is that Uber is not a partner in the NFL racket and they make a fortune from raising their prices during major sporting events.
Uber jacks the rates of an Uber car ride during a ball game and around the park where it is being played. This is a premium rate hour after all because drunks are clamoring for rides. That premium rate needs to go to a “preferred” for a season ticket holder.
The NFL and other sports leagues could make that happen.
Maybe as a ticket holder I get a complimentary Uber service built into my stadium seating license? Yes, that is right, Uber will pick the fan up and drop him off at the stadium and then do the opposite when the game is over and all the beer is drank and the cheesy nachos are all gone.
While we are at it… don’t call it a “seating license”. That term is far too old world and evokes squeezing real butts into small seats. Let’s call it a “fan experience license.”
With a fan experience license, not only do you get hassle free delivery to the game via Uber, if you choose to go, you might enjoy premium connectivity at home through your “fan experience license.”
Maybe you get special broadcast feeds just for premium experience license holders? Perhaps you get access to augmented reality and a VR headset that puts you in your assigned seat while seating your butt at home in your man cave? Another idea is you get an FB Live experience in the after game locker because you paid for it as part of your license? (Not because AB decided to go rogue.)
Hey, the one thing that the ballpark still got going for it is that it is still the fucking ballpark. It isn’t an app you can download, at least not yet. Therefore, it will remain a distinct and viable channel, since it is real. It won’t exist like it used to, but nothing ever does.
The gameday experience can be altered to cater to the premium fan experience and therein lies an opportunity to evolve the experience.
I suggest we use these collaborative technologies to connect friends, share rides—and maximize the profits for the premium fan experience whether from the man cave, bar, or ballpark. These are merely all channels for the premium fan experience license product.
When we quit looking at it as a gameday experience but a fan experience. That broadens the horizon of what is possible and supportable. That perspective opens the field house doors to not preserve the bygone gameday experience but create a newly redefined one in its place, one that has been positively disrupted by the technologies that fans use to keep connected to the sports they still care about.
Do that and you might get those fat butts back into the seats. Who is to say what the future will bring? When folks get bored of watching games in isolation, many fans may wonder back down to the ballpark to sidestep or create urine puddles simply for the sheer joy of it and that fact that you can’t piss on somebody from your Iphone.