LION Newspaper

Commercial complication

Lucy Schaefer, Sports Editor

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I’ve never been much of a baseball fan, but when the Cubs made it to game seven of the World Series, I couldn’t not watch. Zipping up my backpack, knowing full well that my homework would not be getting done, I sprawled out on the couch at 7 p.m. and prepared for history to be made. What I did not anticipate, however, was the game taking five hours to finally reveal a champion. No, that was not a typo. Five hours.

Of course, we must account for the rain delay and the fact that baseball can sometimes be a slow sport. But five hours? Surely this must’ve been a one-time thing, something that only occurs in game seven of the World Series. As much as I would like to say that, it’s simply not true. The commercialization of collegiate and professional sports has reached its peak, and the viewers are paying the price.

Our parents remember a time when the only commercialization of athletes consisted of champions being plastered on the front of a Wheaties box. Now the NFL airs a required 20 commercial breaks per game, each either a minute or two long.

If we do some math, we find that we can spend upwards of 40 minutes watching big time companies desperately try to scrap up any last cent by promoting pointless products. This is being facilitated by none other than the suits of the NFL, or any other professional sports entity for that matter. There’s no surprise as to why: big corporations want big amounts of money. But since when did the National Football League care more about money than football? The irony doesn’t end here.

The NCAA generated $912.3 million in 2015 alone. What used to be a means of fostering a greater sense of community and spirit towards a university has grown into an exploitative mammoth of a corporation. It can be argued that capitalism has destroyed the purpose of collegiate sports.

Any references to college athletics providing the means for athletes to gain a higher education are, in many cases, empty ones. Instead these athletes are being used to further teams in national ranks, while their education suffers. This trend has been seen across the board from the University of North Carolina all the way to UCLA, with major cheating scandals and extreme standardized test score gaps between athletes and general students becoming commonplace. The integrity of these athletes and schools has been sacrificed for what seems like the overarching theme of this column: money.

If we take a second to examine the main motive behind winning, it’s no longer to win. The goal of these entities is more to continue playing as a means to generate more revenue. It’s disheartening for me to see athletes dedicate the bulk of their lives to becoming collegiate or professional athletes, only to become the puppets of sports industries.

There is so much more value to sports than the money. The athletes exemplify hard work, dedication, strength and skill, and these qualities are to be celebrated through their outstanding gameplay. When we think about the true purpose of a sporting event, it’s puzzling to try and piece together why the game itself has become a mere fraction of the event. News flash, I didn’t come all the way to this Pacers game to see the Kiss Cam.

Every organization needs a source of income. That’s understandable. But when we sacrifice the overall focus of a sport just to squeeze in another ad, we begin to repel viewers instead of attract them. Also, we cannot forget to stress the word student in student athlete. It’s immature of big league corporations to hold athletes to a different standard for their own monetary benefit; in fact, it’s detrimental.

Hopefully, some time in the near future, big corporate businessmen will realize their selfish actions are hurting the athletes and, in turn, the game itself.

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The voice of Lyons Township students for more than 100 years
Commercial complication