I attended an NBA basketball game last night. The Orlando Magic were playing the Toronto Raptors at home. This was the first time that I have ever attended a professional game of any sport in my life. I didn't even buy the tickets. They were given to me by a relative and this is the only reason that I attended it the first place. I was completely amazed! Before this, I never understood what all the hoopla was about. Now I understood completely.
I can understand that people love to follow certain teams and kids have there sports idols and all that stuff, but now I see first hand what it all comes down to is the amount of money generated at one of these sporting events. If you've never attended one of these events, then its hard to visualize how much commerce really takes place. Wow!!! The money, the money, the money! There were litarally thousands of people that paid hundreds of dollars for their tickets. There were thousands of people paying way too much for overpriced food. There were thousands of people buying thousands and thousands of dollars of mechandise and souvenirs. The parking alone cost me $20 and there were hundreds, if not thousands of cars parked in the parking garage and all around the arena. The jumbotron and other screens and electronic display boards and tickers displayed advertisements from major companies throughout the venue for the entire lenth of the game and I know these companies each paid thousands of dollars for these advertisements.
The game that I attended last night was not even a major event and it generated millions of dollars just at the venue. This doesn't even include the advertisement revenue that was generated from the television broadcast of the game.
So these cities around the country that are fortunate enough or have these professional sports franchises located in them are at a real advantage when it comes to simple economics. I was amazed at the amount of people working at these events. There were people behind the food counters and people taking tickets and directing the crowds. There was security and housekeeping personnel and on and on and on. It was mind-boggling. I now truely understood why these ball players get paid the way that they do. Its not really all about the skill they have at playing the game, its about how much they can increase the revenue of the franchise. Yes, this is usually proportional to the wins that they can help the team produce and that draws on how good they are at playing the game, but if a player does something to alienate the fans to the point that they don't want to see him play any more, then that player is no longer an asset to the team, no matter how good they are. I guess this is what happened to Dwight Howard. He was an excellent player who helped the team win games but in the end a large chunk of the Orlando fan base wanted to see him gone because of his attitude and the contraversy he brought to the team.
This was an eye-opening experience for me and I will never again take for granted the economic and commercial good that professional sports do for this country and for that matter the whole world!