This past weekend I sat down to watch the conclusion of the NLCS (Go Giants!) with my parents. I’ve always taken baseball very seriously, and generally tune everything else out aside from what is going on in the game. However, earlier that day I had been giving my mom a brief overview of this course, and was commenting on how the integration of corporations into our everyday life had been done so skillfully (or perhaps so frequently is more appropriate) we don’t even notice it happening anymore, and if we do notice it, we no longer question it.
I set upon myself the task of noting every time a brand/corporation/sponsor was mentioned in direct correlation with the game. I eventually gave up, because nearly every time the announcer opened his mouth, one of them came flying at me. It wasn’t “aerial coverage of NLCS game six” it was “Direct TV aerial coverage of NLCS game 6”, it wasn’t a “game summary”, it was a “Blackberry game summary”, brought to you on the screen of a Blackberry.
The uniforms all blatantly sport their logos (not only of the team, which in itself is a brand, but also of the jersey’s creator) and the fences are lined with dozens of ads for everything from car insurance to Taco Time to Exon Mobile. In the sky blimps soar by displaying ads as Direct TV gives us our aerial views. Even stadiums are propaganda for large corporations. The Giants make their home at AT&T Park, the Mariners at Safeco Field, and the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. It is impossible to escape exposure.
(The above video is showing a feud that took place between Utley of the Phillies and J. Sanchez of the Giants, in which their teams soon joined them. However, I want us to look past that excitement at the ads that pop up through out the video. In a matter of seconds I see Budweiser, several Nike swooshes, an ad for Phillies merchandise, and a span of fence sporting several company logos. We are constantly being exposed to these ads if not visually, then via audio.)
I’m not necessarily saying this is a bad thing. The companies give us better ballparks to sit in for three or more hours of our lives, as well as better coverage for those sitting at home watching. Without them there would be no fun handouts of Tim Lincecum bobble heads, orange foam fingers, or Brian Wilson fake beards (okay, the latter probably isn’t a real thing, but it should be, because his beard is excellent) to give to the fans. People just simply need to be aware, and not let them become so synonymous that baseball (or anything that is heavy intertwined with corporations) itself becomes a complex web of corporations and brands instead being about the sport itself.