I got a proposition for you:
$70, upper deck seats, New England Patriots football. Live action, Tom Brady & Randy Moss, the cheerleaders, the whole shebang.
Foxboro is about an hour's drive from Boston, and parking in the lots costs $30. Tailgating, if you choose to do so, runs you another $30. Beers are $6.50, food is ridiculously priced, and bottled water is $4. No replays, TV timeouts, lines for the bathroom, you know the drill.
When you consider driving both ways to the game, the time of the game itself, and the inevitable 2-hour wait one must endure in the parking lot once the game is over, you are looking at possibly a 10-hour game day. All costs included, you are looking at easily $100 spent, if you are frugal and don’t make that under-the-influence $7.95 chicken finger basket purchase.
Here's your other option: Sit at home in your sweats, on the couch, with regularly priced food and beverages stocked in your fridge, and watch the game from home.
Maybe you have a flat-screen or HDTV to enhance the game even more. You get instant replays, better views of the most important plays, the car parked in the driveway for $0, no waiting around in the parking lot after the game, minimal costs....
Is it really a choice?
Now don’t get me wrong, I like to attend live sports. Heck, I used to love it.
Seeing a great moment or priceless game live can be a moment to remember for years to come. Smelling the game, being part of the crowd pulse, actually hearing the crack of the bat or squeaking of basketball shoes—these are all sensory experiences completely unique to live sports.
But the live sporting event is quickly losing its lustre in my eyes. In terms of intangibles, you get little in return besides the actual product on the field. Comfort, money, and convenience are sacrificed for the right to say, "I was there when..."
And how often do the games muster up enough merit and memories to balance the scales with what you spend and sacrifice to be in the stands? If you see Lebron clinch a Finals appearance, or the Patriots complete a perfect season, that's one thing.
But more often than not, that simply isn't the case. And the prices don't waver.
I find it sad that going to see live sports has become such a taxing, financially debilitating experience. Gone are the days of family baseball games for those who can’t spring $200+ for the group. Gone is the affordable ticket to see a Sunday game in Foxboro.
Maybe I have grown to feel this way because I grew up in Boston, where standing-room Red Sox tickets to an April game vs. the Devil Rays run you $75. Celtics' tickets are even more, and Patriots tickets even harder to come by.
Maybe the common denominator is winning. When your team wins, you as the fan should expect painful rates and seldom game day appearances. Maybe I should feel lucky that my teams’ games are hard to get into. Pirates or Devil Rays die-hards would probably trade the money for the wins.
But how much money is seeing the game live really worth? When is it just too much? I love my Red Sox—but forking over $75 for a standing-room ticket in April? That is just blatant exploitation to me.
When your team wins, you as the fan are manipulated beyond reason. They suck you in with a good product, and then immediately empty your pockets in exchange for the experience and nostalgia. Some people don’t mind paying $100 to see a baseball game in June, and that’s fine. But I say the experience and nostalgia just ain’t worth it anymore.
Personally, I just don’t care to feed the money machine anymore. I think it’s pathetic that Fenway Park and other popular venues have become a bastion for the rich and privileged, but just a forbidden foreign entity to the middle class.
Even regular season games are becoming more and more off-limits to the average fan and blue collar worker, the very same people who so fervently follow and support the team.
Sports are the heartbeat of American entertainment, right? What portion of America are we really talking about at this point? The upper 5%?
Enough is enough.
Come meet me on the couch. I’ll be there in my sweats, getting a better view of the game and saving my dollar. I suggest you do the same.