When I was a kid the local news station used to bring a monkey into the studio to make stock market picks. They'd compare the monkey's picks to those of an area stockbroker and in some situations, the monkey made clearly better choices. It was harmless but pretty funny.
If the internet has taught us anything it's that monkeys can do a number of amazing things. They can ice skate, wait tables and they can play the drums. With that being said, I'm fairly sure that if a monkey was given a choice between a "completion" button or an "incompletion" button it would at very least be able to press one of them without waiting 20 minutes. Even better, the monkey would most likely be right half of the time. Sound kind of dumb? I'd take it over what we currently have with the NFL replacement refs.
This is not a knock on the replacement refs. It really isn't. They're doing the best they can with the training they've received. But if we're allowing wins and losses to be effected by someone (or something) that does not have a complete understanding of the game, why not have a little fun with it?
Monkeys would most likely get in the way on the field so I think we should have one sitting in a review booth. If a coach wants to challenge a play he can throw a banana on the field at which point, the cameras would go to the booth, the monkey (dressed in a tuxedo because that's always funnier) would be prompted to hit one of the buttons. Whatever the monkey picks determines whether or not the call stands.
Would it be frustrating at times? No doubt. But no more frustrating than games are now and at least we'd know what we're getting. When the NFL office receives 70,000 phone calls after a bad call and it's discussed on the NBC Nightly News, perhaps it's time to start negotiating with the real officials with a greater sense of urgency. The NFL fans who throw billions of dollars at the league deserve better.
Maybe you don't like my monkey idea but you have to admit; even the most under qualified monkeys wouldn't intentionally jeopardize the integrity of the most popular sport in America over matters such as a referee's salary, pension or job security.
When we were younger we had a cassette tape with all of the music from those old NFL documentaries. You know the documentaries I'm talking about. The one's with the slow motion shots, the dramatic orchestra music and that deep-voiced "frozen tundra" guy? To be goofy we'd play football outside in slow-motion while the cassette tape played along.
We didn't realize it at the time but while we were being goofy, we were actually being impacted by a truly great pioneer to both the world of sports and the world of film - Steve Sabol.
Sabol was the epitome of a visionary, forever changing the way sports films were made. He put multiple cameras on the field and utilized various camera speeds to give him many more editing options and in turn, creating a vastly superior product than anything that had existed before.
Even though video is more cost effective, for most of his work he used film as it provided greater clarity. He wrote most of the rhyming scripts and was the innovator of what we now call "bloopers". Some of his other great innovations were putting a microphone on players and coaches, playing loud booming classical music over his footage and using lots of close ups and slow motion shots. He wasn't showing game footage. He was presenting an epic battle.
When Sabol and his father, Ed, began making these films in 1962, football was the fourth most popular sport in America. In just a decade, it became #1. A position the sport still holds, in no small part to their work.
Steve Sabol also had an effect on the film industry. It's been documented that several Hollywood directors, including Ron Howard and Sam Peckinpah have been influenced in how they shoot montages from watching NFL films.
A few years ago I was fortunate enough to attend a press conference being held by the New York Jets and HBO to announce that the Jets would be the next team to be featured on the series Hard Knocks. Rex Ryan and Woody Johnson spoke briefly as a couple Jets cheerleaders (Flight Girls) posed off to the side. It was relatively brief but what I found truly exciting was the time I got to listen to Steve Sabol speak. It was immediately clear we were listening to a man who not only loved, but appreciated, what he got to do for a living and importance of documenting the history of sports.
Sabol passed away Tuesday at the age of 69 after a year and a half battle with brain cancer but his work and innovation will undoubtedly live on through his massive library of inspiring work. R.I.P Steve Sabol.
If you'd like to learn more about me or discuss any of these topics further, I can be communicated with through Twitter (@burritt15), Facebook (MVP Suite Rides), Pintrest and LinkedIn. Appreciate any feedback you'd like to offer!
Here are the 7 top things you should keep in ming the next time you're at a concert or sporting event and wish to file a complaint:
1. Know what it is you're hoping to accomplish before complaining.
If your first thought is to get"free tickets" don't waste your time. Only in the most severe of situations are guests given complimentary tickets due to a negative experience. This is especially true in venues that tend to sell out and inventory is limited. In large metropolitan areas, they receive this type of request every day. Making this request tends to send a red flag that you have less than genuine motives. When a guest complains and states that he(she), "Just wanted to make someone aware of the situation", it tends to be taken more seriously. If you've had a truly bad experience due to something that the venue did or didn't do, a good Customer Service / Guest Relations Department will offer you something without you having to beg/fight for it.
2. Know who you're dealing with.
There's good Guest Relations Departments and poor ones. There are ones in the NYC metro area that will arm their front line employees with the power to make decisions and fix things on the fly. If they can't do it themselves, they'll go get someone who can. There are others who fear empowering front line employees so they will instead hand you a number to call the following day. This isn't to say that the latter type of venue won't ever do anything to help you. It just means you're going to either fight for it or go through a lengthy process. If you ever find yourself waiting weeks for a resolution, it doesn't hurt to write a letter to someone higher up in the company. It won't solve all of your issues but it usually gets the ball rolling a little quicker.
3. Don't embellish to strengthen your case.
A lot of venues go with the mentality that if one part of your story isn't true it gives them the power to discredit your entire story. Stick with the facts.
4. Understand the system.
Believe it or not, the ability to "make it right" can often be impacted by the type of show you're attending. If you're at a sold out concert and you get a beer spilled on you by a vendor, there's almost zero chance that you would ever be offered a chance to come back to a complimentary show. Why? Concerts have many different outside entities involved (promoters, merchandisers, ticket vending companies, artists etc...). Combine that with the fact that the act is only there for a limited time, it reduces the possiblility of getting through all of the red tape to make something happen in time (assuming the parties involved even care to). The same situation at a baseball game could have a better result. Why? Lots of available inventory and they control the tickets themselves. Again, it still has to be a VALID, PROVABLE situation that happened.
5. Go to the proper entity.
Why go to an arena asking for a seat upgrade, free tickets or complimentary food if you had commuting issues and missed part of an event? Complain to the DOT. The arena had absolutly nothing to do with it and in no way should feel obligated to assist. If you didn't like the singing at a concert performance, the venue had nothing to do with it. Go online and find the promoter of the artist or the artist themselves. Complain to them.
6. Carefull with hostility.
The squeeky wheel gets the oil, right. Well, when the wheel decides to stop squeeking and start spewing expletives peppered with insults, nobody is going to want to help you. Trust me, front line employees do have some discretion and a lot of times they will be asked how the person complaining conducted themselves. It's something that's taken into consideration.
Have reasonable expectations.
7. If you feel like a hot dog vendor looked at you funny and it made you uncomfortable, please feel free to file a complaint. With that being said, you will receive nothing more than an apology from someone who will most likely never address it directly with the vendor. There are more serious matters that will take priority. On the other side of things, if you see a food worker doing something unsanitary, it will definitely make it's way up the ladder but unless it did something to you directly (made you sick), don't go looking for anything.
If you'd like to learn more about me or discuss any of these topics further, I can be communicated with through Twitter (@burritt15), Facebook (MVP Suite Rides) Pintrest and LinkedIn. Appreciate any feedback you'd like to offer!
My last post received quite a lot of feedback regarding the possible decline of the NFL. The responses I received spoke volumes about the passion this fanbase still has for it's sport. So assuming that the NFL is positioned to stay on top for many years to come, we cannot ignore the fact that attendence at the actual stadiums has dropped since 2007 while tv ratings (especially during the Super Bowl) have been higher than ever. This would suggest that NFL fans are telling us that the passion is still stronger than ever there but the stadium experience isn't worth the asking price. So this raises the question: is it simply better to watch the game at home?
Anyone who has even the most minimal connection to the NFL is well aware of the arguments that NFL fans have for staying at home. Staying at home won't cost you $200 for an "ok" seat, $40 for parking, $30 for gas and tolls and at least $100 for food and beverage. Getting in and out of the stadium is a headache and you stand the risk of being next to some loud drunk who's going to ruin the experience for you. At home you've got instant replay, access to EVERY game, surround sound and a 80" HD screen. The only drunks you have to deal with are the ones you've invited to be there.
I respond with a simple question. Ever gone to the beach? It's sweaty, it's a massive project getting everything packed/unpacked, you have to deal with long lines of cars and parking issues, you stand the chance of having to set up next to some drunk meathead blasting club music, the sand gets in everything, you could potentially cut your foot on a seashell or get attacked by a shark/jellyfish/giant squid or other scary ocean creature! Wouldn't it be soooo much nicer to crank up the air conditioning and watch the beach on your great big flatscreen tv? Maybe you could even set up an umbrella in your living room to make it even more "authentic".
My point is that going to the game (or the beach for that matter) is about the experience. Sometimes it's not perfect but when it's working properly, there's nothing else like it in the world. Is it expensive to go to an NFL game? Yes. Are there drunks there? Plenty. But if you're a football fan (even the most passive one) and have never experienced an NFL crowd, you owe it to yourself to get to at least one game. There's a communal feel to it. Five buddies in your living room will never compare to the excitement of being around 80,000 fans who are as passionate as you about your team. Think of it as a party with a population as big as some cities.
Your living room doesn't offer you the ability to trade food with other tailgates, hang out and celebrate with other fans or to be there when something incredible, or possibly historic, happens.
Get to a game this season. If you missed something, hey, there's always TIVO.
HAPPY NFL 2012 SEASON!!!
Are you ready for some football? Me too! Can't wait for the season to get underway. with that being said, former NFL quarterback Troy Aikman believes that the sport that made him famous could soon experience a decline due to overexposure.
He recently said in the Los Angeles Times, "Monday Night Football was a big event. Now you get football Sunday, you get it Monday, you get it Thursday and, late in the year, you get it on Saturday.You talk about the ebbs and flows of what's popular and what's not. At some point, the TV ratings are not going to be there."
There has also been a lot of other conversation lately regarding all of the rule changes to make the sport less violent. Some believe that all of these changes will disrupt the way the game is played, and in turn, will somehow make the game less popular. Is the sport destined to face a decline? If so, why?
Short answer - probably. Football will most likely face a decline. It's at the height of popularity and what goes up must come down. However, this isn't due to overexposure or hefty penalties being levied due to illegal hits. It's about power. As a country we love to witness displays of power and if you look at the most popular sports in America, there's a direct correlation between viewership and the amount of power being showcased.
Boxing, for example, used to be the most popular sport in America. The 60s and 70s gave us the Golden Age of Heavyweights. We got to experience the excitement of fighters like Ali, Frazier, George Foreman and Ken Norton. When the most powerful athletes in the world were in the ring, anything could happen and people were drawn to it. Mike Tyson is another perfect example of this. Between the Ali and Tyson eras we had guys like Larry Holmes. A solid champion who fought very safe. Nobody cared. We want knockouts. Heavywight championship boxing today is a jabbing contest and barely worth mentioning.No power,no fans.
Baseball is without question down in popularity right now (no matter what the Commissioner tries to tell you). The sport faces some challenges in that the game itself doesn't lend itself to change. The last huge popularity spike was during the home run record chase in 1997 between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire. Power. There's a reason the sport had turned a blind eye to steriods. Fans like power hitting and power pitching. Now that they've been forced to test more frequently, home runs are down. Now the sport is at a point where perfect games are becoming more common. The casual fan lets out a huge yawn.
Basketball ebbs and flows a lot in popularity but has been increasing slowly since 2007. This is due, in part to increased star power but also to changes in defensive rules being implemented since 2004. It's very much a scoring driven league now since the game has been "opened up". Lots of scoring, lots of driving to the rim and most importantly, lots of big dunks. Power.
This brings us back to professional football. It's a great sport at the height of it's popularity but as happens with all #1 sports, it's bound to come back down. Most likely greed will be what creates the downturn (just ask any former NFL season ticket holder). Making the game "softer" to decrease injury-based lawsuits will continue to undoubtedly frustrate some fans and players. There will continue to be less big hits (displays of power) but fortunately for football, there's still plenty of power to go around. Football will face a decline but it will take a long time. Last year's Super Bowl had 111.3 million viewers in the United States. This was the most-watched television show U.S.history. The second most watched - last years Super Bowl.
I grew up hating the Boston Red Sox. Sorry Red Sox fans, just being honest. I hated the players, the history of the team and especially the ballpark. I thought Fenway Park was the miniature golf course of major league baseball. It had a big goofy wall in left field, a little tiny wall in right field and a center field wall that was what seemed like a mile from home plate. The only thing missing was a clown's mouth to hit the ball in to get two runs. Whenever we'd play ball in front of my grandparents' house on Liberty Avenue I'd always pretend I was Reggie Jackson crushing homers over the Green Monster.
I'd been to Fenway once before when I was younger. It was ok. We went in the gate closest to our seats, sat down, watched the game and left. This past week I went for the second time while hosting a group trip. For whatever reason, I took the time to walk completely around the outside of the park. I did the same with the inside. I went everywhere I had access to. This time it was different. I actually felt appreciation and a little bit of love for Fenway Park! Was my loyalty to the Yankees wavering? Was I going insane? Was the combination of beer and sun making me delirious?
I know I'm still not a Red Sox fan so what could it have been that changed my perspective. Then it dawned on me. Like Fenway Park - I'm old.
The things I mocked as a kid came from a lack of understanding. There's a rich history in that ballpark that just doesn't exist anywhere else. It's now the only existing park that Babe Ruth played in. There's actually a red seat in the bleachers that marks the longest home run ever hit there (by Ted Williams). There's so much to appreciate like the Pesky Pole, the ladder to nowhere on the Green Monster, the painted brick walls, the manual scoreboard and the dents on the Green Monster that are decades old. I even appreciate the narrow, dark concourses that make you feel like you've just traveled back in a time machine. Fenway Park is oozing with character. It's genuine. It's real.
Fenway shouldn't exist. Like Yankee Stadium, it should have been knocked down and replaced with some fancy, shiny, overpriced, oversied version of itself. Fenway Park is a testament that old isn't bad. It isn't the biggest park with the best selection of food and playgrounds for the kids. Ranking it on amenities alone would put it pretty low on anyone's list. But none of that matters.
Fenway contunues to be one of the jewels of Major League Baseball. From certain perspectives it could be mistaken as being faded and worn. But it's not. Just like us, it just keeps gaining character.
R.I.P Johnny Pesky.
In a few days we get to rally together as a country to cheer on our American athletes during the 2012 London Summer Olympics. The Summer Olympics have introduced us to household names like Cassius Clay, Michael Johnson, Carl Lewis, Mary Lou Retton, Jesse Owens, Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz and the list goes on and on. For sports fans, it's a great time to express national pride while coming together to be reminded that perseverance and determination can lead to great things.
Although the games will prove to be an exciting couple of weeks and will undoubtedly introduce us to many great new athletes, we won't have are any great stories regarding baseball. Which leads us to the question - why did Americas Pastime get dropped from the Olympics this year?
The International Olympic Committee made the decision to drop baseball and softball from the 2012 and 2016 program, with the possibility of bringing them back in 2020. There are a few reasons why this has happened.
Baseball and softball suffer from a lack of universal appeal. Although baseball continues to be popular in the Americas and Eastern Asia, there's not much of an interest from European countries. A significant amount of the International Olympic Committee members are European. Combine this with the cap of 28 events and an increasing list of other sports trying to get inclusion, something had to give.
For softball, our complete dominance didn't help. 2008 was the only year we didn't win the gold since the sport had been introduced into the games. Without any level of parity, softball quickly lost international support. Baseball actually had a decent level of competition (since MLBs schedule is not conducive to participation). With baseball, however, the inclusion of professionals would actually help our case (parity or not) since the popularity of the players would most likely increase viewership.
The NHL shuts the league down for two weeks to accommodate the Winter Olympics. Don't expect this to happen with the Summer Olympics and baseball in 2020 as Bud Selig continues to prefer pushing his World Baseball Classic (at least for now). The next one is in 2013.
Although it would be great to see our professionals or our top amateur baseball prospects compete in the Olympic Games, at least we still have major league baseball in its current form. We'll also get to enjoy all of the other great events the Summer Olympics have to offer. This year's newest additions are golf and rugby sevens. Enjoy!
I'm an overprotective dad. I'll admit it. If our family ever decides to go somewhere we always weigh, very carefully, if it's an appropriate place to bring a three year old. For the most part, professional sports venues are family friendly but there are definitely some things to consider before purchasing tickets for the whole family. If you're anything like me, you want to keep the aggravation to a minimum.
Believe it or not, day and time of the game can make a big difference in your experience. Night games (specifically Thu-Sat night games) tend to get a lot more drunks. Not to say there aren't drunks at every game but you get a lot of people blowing off steam from the workweek from Thursday on. If you want to better your chances of avoiding your child seeing or hearing something inappropriate, you might want to stick with day games. Weekday day games tend to attract a lot of camps and school trips.
If you're at a game and someone sitting near you is using inappropriate language it can be intimidating for some people to say anything. Even if you aren't easily intimidated, you might not want to cause a scene in front of your kids. If you ever find yourself in this situation, you can contact the nearest usher or security guard and explain the situation. Unless they see or hear someone bothering you, they will most likely not be able to do anything directly to the offending party. What they can do (subject to availability) is try to find you another seat comparable to the one you currently have.
The other big fear a lot of parents have is losing their child in a big crowd. I've personally worked with parents who have lost their kids at the ballpark and I can assure you, it's one of the most heart wrenching things you can watch someone go through. Fortunately, I've yet to be involved in a situation where a child wasn't reunited with their parent(s). There are a few tips to keep in mind that will help you quickly get reunited with your child should you become separated.
If your child is old enough to communicate, make sure you establish a place to meet in the event you're separated. The most obvious one would be your seating location. Make sure they have their own ticket on them, as it's very easy to forget this information. If you're afraid the child will lose the ticket, write the seat location on a piece of paper and put it in their pocket.
If your child is not old enough to communicate, you should also put your cell phone number on the piece of paper so a stadium employee can call you should they find your child wandering. Another great option is "tagging" your child. Some fan assistance or guest relations programs offer complimentary wristbands for children with a place to write seat location and cell phone number. I would heavily advise against putting a child's name on their wristband as potential predators to can use this information to their advantage.
Hopefully, this doesn't discourage you from bringing your kids to the game. There's nothing better than a live sporting event and the great memories created can last forever. With that being said, it's always good to be prepared should something unfortunate happen.