Change is inevitable, but is it always good? Athletes today are, bigger,faster and getting paid a lot more than their past 3. Does this mean the games themselves need to change as well? Is it the demand for better athletes that drives technological advances or is it just the larger revenues that fuel these improvements?
Money is the biggest fuel to all the changes in sports. Athletes earn more, tickets cost more, stadiums are getting more expensive, and richer people are willing to spend ridiculous on creating the next big franchise. Look at the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys owner Jerry Jones help bring a 1.3 billion dollar stadium to life. The stadium can seat around 80,000 people and is home to the biggest high-definition TV hanging over the field at 152 by 72 feet. The goal with the TV was to bring fans closer to the game, but isn’t that just as good as watching the game at home sitting on your couch. Look at two of the oldest stadiums in Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago cubs, and Fenway Park, where the Boston Redsox Play. Neither of those teams have a TV screen and fans never feel closer to their teams then in Boston and Chicago. So are theses billion dollar stadiums necessary? Some teams find just adding on and improving old stadiums is sufficient. Michigan stadium, home of NCAA football’s Wolverines, didn’t have lights until just this year and they hosted their first night game. This game broke the single game record for that stadium seating 114,804 people. Even some of the historic fields are being torn down to be replaced by state of the art stadiums. The original Yankee stadium, “the house that Ruth built”, stood for 85 years and hosted multiple world series; however, limited seating and internal problems led to its destruction in 2008. Money is being tosses around by billionaires trying to bring in more fans and create better teams, and for what? With the goal to bring in more money.
With more capital involved in the world of sports other companies want to get involved as well. Brands try to get their label noticed by creating the best equipment for the athletes. Jerseys are changing every year. Companies attempt to combine better looks with superior feel to uniforms in order to win the chance to be worn by the players. This has created some outrageous looks along with some expensive jerseys. In attempt to sell more merchandise teams no longer have just one or two jerseys. There are football teams out there, the Oregon Ducks, who have so many combinations of uniforms they can wear its impossible to cover them all in one season. And how did they get to that point? Well, University of Oregon is in Eugene which happens to be the same place the Nike headquarters. Nike has used the Ducks to create a new generation of fans that want cooler and more unique jerseys. The amount of money Nike has put into UofO is incredible and some would even think unfair, but many other teams have jumped on the bandwagon of having special uniforms including Arizona State University. So is this change just a big ploy by big sports merchandise corporations or do teams really want to change the look of their team?
How far is taking improving equipment too far though? In the 2008 World Cup the new ball made by Adidas was supposed to have less stitches giving you a better feel. What was really created was a ball the knuckled when kicked making it harder for goalies to follow the trajectory of the ball. I have always questioned football gloves. Those things are like glue. How long is till all a receiver has to do is stick his hand out and the ball just sticks. Is that even fair? On the bright side though new helmets are being created to help prevent further injuries to the head and neck area. It just a question as to when will they take improving the technology of equipment too far just to give a team an advantage.
With more fans and again more money involved everyone want to be the one covering sports. ESPN has most resources and the biggest choke hold on the sporting world but many others are there for coverage as well. No sports is more important to cover in America than the NFL. It has the largest audience and largest amount paid for advertising. One of the biggest TV deals of all time was when CBS one the rights to cover the NFL and more recently Fox; however, they were not able to keep ESPN completely out of the mix when they gained the right to cover Monday Night Football. This year several different networks battled to win the right to cover the next world cup. This deal is estimated to cost around $425 million dollars. That just shows how much demand there is to cover different sports. With all these networks battling it out this can be good for the consumer. Now there are multiple channels dedicated to just sports, all the ESPN channels, Fox Sports, NFL Network, and Sunday NFL Ticket the list could go on for a while. Viewing sports is also no longer limited to just TV. Many games are now streaming on your computer and mobile device.
Money helps sports grow and develop. Athletes will continue to get better and take advantage of future innovations in equipment and uniforms I just hope it never gets to a point where it’s who own the best tools rather than the best players. I look forward to future changes in sports and hope they only make them more fun to watch.