Take me out to (just) the ball game

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Isn’t the sole reason to buy tickets to a ball game is so that you can relax and forget about stresses at work or home? It is a distraction. Family time. A way to unwind. Paying to see elite athletes do what they do best. What fans don’t pay to see is a game which is dressed in politics. Once again the President has smacked more people eager to disrespect the nation. While hardly presidential, he none-the-less made a very good point – “fire those sons of bitches” referring to those grossly overpaid players who make political gestures such as taking a knee when the national anthem is being played. When this whole ‘kneeling’ malarkey kicked off, NFL ratings have been on a slide and the 2017 start has showed a shocking 24% (FOX) and 15% (CBS) drop in the Prime 18-49 viewership stats.

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Now the facts are simple. 30 of the 32 NFL teams are owned by whites. The other two by Americans of Asian decent. The idea that Colin Kaepernick was fired because of racism is plain dumb. 70% of the players in the NFL are black. These players are paid huge salaries  and to all intents and purposes are employees of the club. Therefore the boss contracts players to behave in ways that not only win ballgames but respect their customers (i.e. fans) who ultimately fund their salaries. Kaepernick was on $12mn per year. Hardly skimping by because of his supposedly racist bosses. Yet in his quest to protest police brutality he decided to shove his politics into fans’ faces. While they just wish to enjoy a game he wants to sour the experience.

Ah yes, he has a right to free speech. Indeed he does. However when he is on the ‘company clock’ he is still required to follow the boss’ instructions. That is part of the contract of employer/employee. In a sense what Kaepernick was doing was dissent. If he wants to protest such matters why doesn’t he do it off the field. In fact his actions have spawned copycats in kid’s sports. What values are we teaching these kids? Instead of looking at ways to sensibly heal rifts, coaches are trying to brainwash innocent kids to doing their protests for them.

The AFL is also guilty of this political posturing over same sex marriage (SSM). The AFL has not been the poster child for best in class ethics (e.g. bosses having affairs with junior female staff) yet feel they should put “yes” on the footballs and their HQ logo. All fans want to do is watch the game and escape all the ills in society. They don’t pay to have it served up to them. It doesn’t matter if these fans support SSM it’s a question of why are corporates or sports teams campaigning on what consenting adults do behind closed doors. It is irrelevant.

The argument we often hear is that corporations should use their profiles to promote social issues. Corporations are nothing but buildings with desks, chairs some pot plants and desktop PCs. They aren’t people. Sure people work inside them but to think that “the corporation speaks for us” is nonsense. In most cases it’s a small committee forcing their sense of political will on staff about how they should behave. Sure basic standards in the office are fair but since when did political views, gender or sexual orientation become such a fertile ground for companies to push on staff. Surely the only true goal of the staff is to work as a team to produce results efficiently in the interests of their customers. Not seek to rebrand their logos and shopfronts to promote political causes.

If companies feel so strong about such issues perhaps they should chisel those principles under the other core goals respelendent in the office foyer. Yet it is different. Corporates are becoming so scared of lawsuits and reputational damage that they embark on social crusades to chalk up a track record to deny they discriminate in the workplace hence all these social targets. So while some staff see the corporate actions as virtuous many don’t realize the public point scoring element to the cheerleading

Ultimately consumers have choices. When it comes to sport people want to relax and enjoy the game, not absorb political posturing. When it comes to drinking coffee they don’t want Starbucks explaining their rationale as to why the removal of Christmas cups was done.

Here is an idea. If the NFL or AFL IR anymother business for that matter wish to push political causes offer fans/customers a choice. Half price tickets/services/goods with a political pamphlet handed out or a full priced ticket/service/good with none. That way the fan/customer can choose. I’d only suggest to put a recycling bin right by the ticket booth/register so you can see how many fans/customers  actually care what you have to say on political matters! You’ll soon realize the majority don’t care and your revenues will have halved. Best stop the politics and charge full prices.

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