Tuesday, March 29, 2005

TV Sports Aren't Even Trying Anymore

 Posted by Hello

Pontiac- separating Rednecks from their money since the youngest still had teeth

With all apologies to Henry over at The Big Ball I'm not a basketball fan. The NCAA tournament leaves me cold every year, as up here in Maine we rarely even have the joys of local boosterism to get involved with as our men's and women's basketball programs are decidedly modest (the Frozen Four is another matter, even though the Black Bears stank it up this year). Like all over hyped thinly disguised excuses for gambling however there is no escaping it, with all the ESPNs, FSN, NESN, and CBS shunting interesting sports programming and television for the elderly off to the wings to make way for tall men in loose undershirts running around indoors.

It comes as no surprise that as with all things athletic and American that this snoozefest is swimming in corporate money and attempts to make you buy crap. No real complaints there; I understand that someone has to pay to keep the lights on, and if you can get a big corporate sugar daddy to do it, all the better. Its not like the sponsors influence the results and I can take a logo or two on the floor or field.

Still, it is my custom to keep an eye out for the crassest display of advertising trying to masquerade as corporate benevolence. So far the award has to go to Pontiac, for their $150,000 in scholarships that viewers get to allocate based on an online poll as to who played the best game (I don't think I'm doing this crappy stunt justice: more can be found here, including a video of Greg Gumbel explaining the whole pointless exercise).

Pontiac positions itself as empowering the fans, rewarding great skill, and endowing much needed money for scholarships. They are given credibilty in this effort by CBS sports who lend their talent to promote this and by the NCAA who host the information on their website and allow Pontiac and GM in general to use their logo and the phrase "March Madness" in advertising. As with all advertising, this is of course bullshit.

The vote for best play is meaningless and I would suggest based on flashy moves judged subjectively (if we all really understood what wins a game we'd all be coaches); no difference from 90% of decisions we make everyday really I suppose. If it stopped there, as a bit of meaningless fun, I wouldn't have a problem with it. What really annoys me is that for the cost of the campaign and $150,000 Pontiac gets to position itself as friendly to the scholar athlete. In reality, Pontiac needs to only sell around 20 of its mid-sized sedans to dealerships to recoup the cost of the scholarship package; even for a troubled car brand like Pontiac $150,000 is less than their executive bathroom toilet tissue budget I suspect. What is more, the $150,000 is being dolled out in chunks of $5000. Handy for an individual, but not really a big difference when added to the general scholarship fund.

So here's the executive summary of the above:
Pontiac is a cheap company pretending to to be Daddy Warbucks. Besides, it seems that every single car accident or head on collision involving a barely-out-of-adolecence goober here in Maine contains the sentence "Recovery vehicles pulled the 1992 Pontiac Grand Am out of the ditch/lake/side of the barn/moose's carcass/trailer picture window..." The scholarship fund thing is a crappy stunt, Greg Gumbel is a bit of a whore, and the NCAA is beyond appalling.

1 comment:

henryabbott said...

I know it's my job to defend basketball here. And I love the game dearly.

But I have nothing good to say about Pontiacs, so I'm staying out of this one.