The Playing Field

Sport and culture through the lens of science

Come On Baby, Just Sell Me Your Soul!

No Logo, No Space, No Jobs, No Choice

It's Bowl season again in college football and once more we are reminded that greed is good and commonsense be damned.

In part, what I'm talking about is a lack of a playoff system. If you've been living in a cave in Turkmenistan than perhaps you haven't heard that there's no playoff system in football.

Never mind that everyone from the fans to the players to the President has said this is ridiculously unfair to the athletes and really tarnishes the game.

The reason is simple: the Bowl system brings in massive amounts of dollars to colleges in major conferences and the major conferences would rather be rich than fair.

Obama has recently said he'd like this to change and most people are hoping for an executive order. Don't hold your breath.

And this is small potatoes. What I really mean is this business of branding has become downright surreal. The Independence Bowl, established in 1976, has since become the PetroSun Independence Bowl, the Mainstay Independence Bowl, Sanford Independence Bowl, and my all time favorite: The Poulan Weed-Eater Independence Bowl.

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And there are 32 other examples where that one came from.

And it's not just the Bowl games. Advertising is now everywhere in sports. Football Night in America-maybe the dumbest name for a sports show ever-is NBC's lead in to the Sunday night contest. It's full of pomp and pageantry and, of course, it's also brought to you by GM.

And we know this not because someone mentions it every three seconds-which they do-but because the desk that Bob Costas, Chris Collinsworth, Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann sit at is a giant screen featuring the GM logo in proud Technicolor.

The freaking logo is bigger than the screen that they show highlights on.

Now sure, Costas has gone from being one of the best reporters on television to some kind of Martian, but you'd think someone as outspoken as Keith Olbermann would object to this sort of pandering.

Come on people-NBC is broadcast television. The airwaves are supposed to be a public trust. Do we have that much trust in GM? I mean, these are they same guys who flew a corporate jet to DC so they could beg Congress for billions in taxpayer dollars (which they promptly spent on facials and massages).

Or worse, every second of ESPN is now brought to you by another advertiser.

"Well Boomer, what we got here is the very first play of the game-what we at ESPN like to refer to as the Dominos Pizza Kick Off Return. After we break for a commercial we can show the first set of downs. First down, of course, being brought to you by Radio Shack. The ‘don't just buy stuff, do stuff down' as we call it. But more on that later. Now a word from our sponsors-and, before I forget, this word from our sponsors is sponsored by Kentucky Fried Chicken..."

These days we've got soda machines in our schools, advertisements in our urinals, billboards that have become 3-D, commercials before movies, commercials inside of movies, television shows undistinguishable from commercials, and a world going down the toilet because everyone seems to have misplaced their conscience in their rush to rush out and buy all this new stuff.

Did I happen to mention that it's now January 1st and as a final goodwill gesture George Bush has allowed 2009 to be renamed "The Shell Oil Year Of Exorbitant Profits."

So Happy New Year. Enjoy those great post-X-Mas bargains. And please, don't forget to eat some delicious Taco Bell while you're out shopping.

 

 

 

 

Steven Kotler is an author and journalist. His most recent works include: Abundance, A Small Furry Prayer  and West of Jesus.

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