Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Return of Home Field Advantage

A lot of people are wondering out loud, "What are our lives going to be like in the coming recession years?" Tyler Cowan suggests that we may have to look to simpler pleasures: board games, walks in the park, etc. We apparently will turn away from our Hummer homes and NBA box seats. That might happen, but I suspect what will really happen is our houses will get a little smaller and those NBA seats may become cheap enough so that the real fans can return to courtside. And it's about damned time. 

One of the corrosive aspects of American popular culture has been the relentless corporatization of everything. I don't mean to complain when, say, private business is brought in to improve a benighted area as was famously done in Times Square. But all things fun - sports, big time stadium rock concerts, NASCAR, even skateboarding(!) - have been turned into mega-events only affordable to corporate interests, especially financial ones(that at least will change!). In a symbolic sense, true fans are locked out in favor of their bosses and bankers. Think of Montgomery Burns trying to mix with ordinary joes by saying "How about that local sports team." Now, think of that attitude carried over to every aspect of life. The effects of this phenomenon have been best described by Bill Simmons as the demise of home-field advantage, and it is ugly in its enforced blandness.

The corporatization of everything has turned its participants into corporate drones themselves; look at Tony Romo or Alex Rodriguez listlessly droning at their lockers. The alphas of our society have been reduced to the level of mimics  blandly reciting platitudes like PR flacks, rather than going off half cocked as their more "colorful" predecessors may have once done. America is all about energy, but too often it has allowed this vitality to be sucked away in favor of some HR department-style of discourse. If the Crash of '08 and the Great Recession of '09 bring about a return of a more untrammeled popular culture (sans vulgarity, of course), that would be a positive.  

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