by Scott Hall
I've been closely following the Tour de France for almost three weeks. Most days I follow the race on-line, and this morning I finally got weary of all the on-line and television commercial action packed and packaged around the Tour - and all professional sports for that matter. Even the colorful uniforms and stock cars are covered with sponsor ads. Usually it's easy to block all the commercial hype, enjoy the event, and appreciate the talent and tactics.
It's no secret that all forms of media must have stars - Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Lance Armstrong, the quarterback. The media need good stories and will not let ordinary facts get in the way of making melodrama around the stars. Then they have something to sell to advertisers who have something to sell to us.
When our favorite ten million dollar outfielder strikes out in the bottom of the 9th with the winning run on third base, many knowledgeable, life long fans say something like "he makes all that money, he's gotta do better than that!" I share the frustration and deep disappointment, but the money does not guarantee or even help the prospects of success on the field. And, in another living room, someone rooting for the other team is celebrating the clutch performance of the ten million dollar pitcher who struck him out.
If the athlete didn't get the big money, we'd still probably think he's overpaid and complain about the price of a ticket, hot dog or cable subscription.
Here's a great spoof of sports and commercialism that aired on NPR's Morning Edition program about five or ten years ago.