|When I was young, going to the theatre or to a sporting event was affordable to everyone. Now, between outrageous salaries and corporate gouging, the best seats are reserved for those with big expense accounts, and the working class watch sports mostly on TV and rarely go to live theatre at all. This year the Canadian Football League realized that their sport was one of the most affordable spectator events going, and capitalized on the fact that CFL players earn such modest salaries that most of them have second jobs in the communities they play in. A ‘blue-collar’ CFL promotion program stressed that these are just average guys like you and me, most of them playing for fun rather than the money, and most of them knowing that they’re never going to be superstars in the NFL. The program produced a huge increase in attendance, and this past weekend’s Grey Cup final was the most watched ever. Now, with the overpaid NHL hockey players on strike, and locked out by price-gouging team owners, many Canadians are turning away from both greedy groups and showing up in record numbers at Junior hockey league games, where ticket prices are cheap, players play their hearts out for modest salaries, the teams are evenly balanced, and every seat in the house is a great one.
Community theatres are booming too, as many Canadians are fed up with prices for the ‘blockbuster’ shows that run in excess of $100 a seat. This past weekend I paid a mere $20 for a ticket to see a concert that featured Murray McLauchlan, Marc Jordan, Ian Thomas and Cindy Church, who between them have over 60 international music awards (mostly for songwriting) — and the stars came out at the end of the show and mingled with the crowd! [Great concert, BTW, and I’m going to see Marc at his solo concert next month in Mississauga launching his new CD Make Believe Ballroom].
All of this is bringing a lot of people who started cocooning when the hassle and price of tickets just wasn’t worth it any more, back into the crowds of sporting events and concerts. It’s like a quiet revolution going on, and I sure hope it succeeds. I’m already starting to go out a lot more.
And soon we’ll be able to take our own wine into restaurants, which will make eating out more affordable, too.
Speaking of sports, I thought of an idea to make sporting events even more exciting. If you really want to engage the ‘crowd’ in a baseball or football game, what if you gave the crowd the chance to make all of the key decisions for one or even both teams? You’d have to enroll/register in advance, so no one could vote twice. Then, in a baseball team, you could log into a special Wisdom of Crowds website (or use those wireless electronic voting machines, if you were in the stands) to tell your team’s pitcher what to throw (with the consensus relayed to the catcher by transmitter so he could signal to the pitcher), decide when to pull the pitcher, when to call for a steal, when to put in which pitch-hitter, and all the other decisions that are usually made by the ‘experts’. In football, you could select which play to use from the playbook, decide whether to go for it on fourth down (third down in Canada), etc. Would the ‘crowd’ call a better game than the coaching staff? Would the Yankees fans call a better game than the Red Sox fans? You’d need some pretty tight software security to keep the calls from being intercepted by the other side, but it should be possible. It might be best to try it out during an exhibition game or even an all-star game. I think it would be a hoot, and add a whole new dimension to the strategy of the game.