Commercials are destroying sports

By: Matthew Balsinger

Last weekend, I made my biweekly pilgrimage to Cleveland Browns Stadium to watch the Browns take on the Seahawks. As I sat in the stands, disgust and anger began to fill my veins. No, this outrage was not inspired by the inadequacies of the Cleveland Browns or the terrifyingly boring game before my eyes. It was instead the disgusting use of television timeouts for commercial breaks.

When one is at home watching the big game on television, it is easy to not notice the many commercial breaks, but those who frequent sporting events often see that they are quite obvious. After every turnover, kickoff, timeout and touchdown, there is a commercial break. In the most annoying instances, the game will be stopped for two minutes of commercials, return for the kickoff, and after the tackle the game will once more go to a commercial break. For less than 30 seconds of the game we have three minutes of commercials. This makes a full half of football, which is 30 minutes, last over an hour and a half.

This perversion of the game also occurs in college football. It’s not as bad for teams like the Zips, who rarely get featured on prime-time slots, but it is still so invasive to the point that it discourages people from attending the game in the first place. The love of the game is continually pushed aside in the name of money and profits, which begs me to ask why? Why is everything becoming so bastardized by money and profits?

This offers quite an interesting view on our capitalistic society that would often go unnoticed; only here can we pay for a product completely as well as pay for the provider to make even more money off the product we have purchased from them. It’s like buying a house from a realty company while everything in that house, and the house itself, is an advertisement for the realty company. It’s a win-win situation for the provider and a win-lose situation for the buyer. There has to be some point at which we draw the line.

Some might explain the need for these commercials is that the viewers who are watching the game at home are doing so for free. That argument sounds evenhanded, but I challenge it. The audience at home is both a captive audience for the network as well as the production of the sporting event, which makes it not free at all. It’s free advertising for both the network and the sporting event. Some advertising should always be expected, but to completely destroy the game for those who have paid to be in attendance is ridiculous.

The most reasonable solution is to have the free-captive audience suffer the consequences of commercial breaks for not actually attending the game instead of those attending the game suffering the boredom of television timeouts. Television timeouts wouldn’t be so bad if the stadium were actually doing something during them to keep the crowd involved, but that costs money. Why care about the stadium audience when they’ve already paid?