Killing The Casual Fan: The Over-Commercialization Of American Sports

Jeffrey MannCorrespondent IAugust 24, 2008

In this ADD—fueled society everything has been shortened to maintain the attention spans of the masses. Everything that is, except for sporting events. Contests in all American sports have continued to add more commercial time outs and breaks.

Plastering advertisements over every inch of a stadium or arena has become more than commonplace at just about any sports venue in the United States and around the world. This I can understand and it can be overwhelming, but is not what I protest against the most.

In watching Olympic basketball this week I felt spoiled; it offers an exciting game that takes slightly over an hour to watch. Granted that the game is a whopping eight minutes shorter than an NBA game, this was still in stark contrast from the three-hour affairs that the NBA has made me accustomed to and that most casual fans cannot stand.

Baseball games that used take two hours to watch now consistently pass the three (sometimes four!) hour mark. Breaks between innings have gotten longer, every possible delay in game action now leads to a commercial. Postseason play leads to even more commercials, with games often lasting four hours or more.

The NFL may be the worst offender of all; week in and week out it continually takes three plus hours to watch slightly over an hour of football. Serious football fans spend their entire Sunday, noon till after midnight, watching just three games. Like baseball, the NFL playoffs become an excruciating affair for casual fans, requiring a four hour commitment.

At one point, the NBA was the exception to the rule. But they too found ways to squeeze in more and more sponsorships and promotions, extending the length of their games every year. This year's playoff games lasted three hours or more, and NBA basketball games are only forty—eight minutes long.

This phenomenon has spilled over unto the college sporting scene as well, affecting both the college Bowl season and March Madness.

I could go on about ludicrous corporate sponsorship for stadiums, but I believe it is the time commitment required to watch modern American sporting events that is driving away the casual fans. When our attention span is getting shorter as a society, how can we expect the next generation to possibly stay interested through two hours of commercials to watch an hour of sports?


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