Not all new ideas are good ideas. Professional sports are not immune to them and these have caused untold embarrassment. Here are 5 ideas that shouldn’t have made it into professional sports.
Astroturf defines the saying that cheap is just cheap. Introduced in the 1960’s into Major League Baseball, it soon gained a reputation for wrecking the knees of the players while saving on labor and water costs. The bounce of the ball off the surface was completely ridiculous as well. Thankfully astroturf is now almost extinct from the M.L.B. but it did lead to a memorable line from Tug McGraw when he was asked about the difference between grass and astroturf. He replied ‘’I dunno. I never smoked astroturf’’. I have yet to come across a writer waxing lyrical about the green sward of astroturf across the playing field as they enter the stadium. It’s just a cheap and nasty experience for all concerned.
I can understand the motivation for stadium and team owners to make a quick buck by selling the naming rights to their particular stadiums. But it just sounds stupid when an announcer says ‘’Welcome to Retro Faucet Field’’. First of all, the sponsors change so often that you don’t know which stadium is being talked about. Secondly, it just sounds cheap. And lastly, it just doesn’t work as far as the sponsor is concerned because branding is what you do to a cow. Advertising is when you work your way through the 5 w’s. These are why, when, how, where and what. I don’t know what a lot of sponsors do because nobody has bothered to explain to me what they do and I’m not interested in finding out unless I’m in need of their services.
What a boring waste of time this is for all concerned. Mindless questions are followed by mindless answers. During the Australian Open tennis tournament a few years ago Pam Shriver, a great player in her own right, was tasked with asking questions during the match itself. This was dropped as it was extremely unpopular with the players. Kimi Raikkonen in Formula 1 has turned boring interviews into a fine art by preceding every answer with ‘’Bwah’’ and then giving a monotone and deadbeat answer that he can think of. The worst thing is if they say anything controversial then they’ll get fined by the organizers of the sport due to sponsorship concerns.
4. Gimmicky Uniforms
About 20 years ago some teams in the English Premier League decided it would be a good idea to change their uniforms in order to boost sales in their merchandise shops. This trend soon caught on in other countries but fans soon got tired of the blatant attempt to extract money from them. Thankfully this trend never really caught on in North American sports. Another thing that sets North American sports uniforms apart is the lack of advertising. This can’t be said for the teams playing in other countries which have a dazzling array of logos on them that makes them look so ugly that they should belong in a modern art gallery. And it doesn’t work. What works is putting on a great advertisement at half time just as they do in the Super Bowl. Or you can just throw free stuff at the fans like they do in the Tour de France.
One sport which takes great care to preserve balance between the different competitors is baseball. And thus the sport still has credibility with the hardcore fans. Just to prove that not all change is good change along came David Stern, the commissioner of the N.B.A. who changed the ball without consulting the players. The result was a disaster with players unable to grip the ball and damaging their hands at the same time. Another sport which changed their ball and suffered as a result is golf which has balls that regularly make the older courses look like a joke. As soon as you make a sport easy you make it boring and therefore people lose interest. And it became more expensive because courses needed renovation to stay relevant.