Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Excerpts from ESPN's "Pulse of the Nation" Poll

Watch Joe Mauer perform an appendectomy on a dog...using only a Sharpie.

I'm a bit behind in reading my ESPN the Magazines, but the recent fan issue (the Joe Mauer-covered issue--directly preceding the current Shaun White-covered issue--though my issue had a different cover shot than the one I pulled off of ESPN's cover archive above) had an interesting "Pulse of the Nation" poll results, the synthesis of 66,000 fan votes on variant issues. Here's some that caught my eye:

I approve of the job this executive is doing:

Roger Goodell, NFL: 82% (up from 80% last year)

Gary Bettman, NHL: 60% (up from 55%)

David Stern, NBA: 51% (down from 62%)

Barack Obama, USA: 43% (n/a)

Bud Selig, MLB: 37% (down from 42%)

I expected Selig to be at the bottom, but the fact that he is over ten points BELOW David Stern, who presides over a league whose attendance is sharply down, players are bringing guns to locker rooms, and games have become fundamentally unwatchable--this is shocking. Bud has none of these problems, and yet two-thirds of fans don't appreciate him. And this is the guy we want to immortalize with a statue? Yecch. Can we please move on from the Selig Steroid era?

I also have no idea who Gary Bettman is or what he does, but know that he's almost twice as popular as Selig. And I haven't seen any USA-league games; they must be on the Versus channel (I have DirecTV).

There is at least one pro team I hate.

Agree: 94%

Disagree: 6%

Kinda makes it difficult to plea for rational behavior with that overwhelming level of sentiment around the stands. (And in case you're wondering, some of that hate is pretty well-reasoned and thoughtful.)

Which of the following have you done at a college or pro sporting event?

75% Sneaked into a better seat

67% Yelled obscenities

46% Got drunk

41% Scalped or bought a scalped ticket

34% Caught a ball or puck

29% Lied to an acquaintance in order to attend

11% Used a racial slur against an opposing player or fan

5% Had sex

I'm right there with the top six things (I've actually caught a ball on two separate occasions, albeit never cleanly on the fly). I've hurled invective, but my slurs have never been racially-motivated. And I've not had sex at a game. At least, not in the stadium.

I would give up a year of my life in exchange for a championship by my favorite team.

Agree: 42%

Disagree: 58%

I think I'm on the agree side here. I can remember that when UCLA won its 12th NCAA basketball title in 1995, being able to share that moment with my father (also a UCLA fan) was one of the greatest fan experiences I've had--and we weren't even in the same place during the game. I hope for the day when I can experience a Dodgers World Championship with my kids--but it will be more meaningful when they're at an older age and can appreciate it like I could the most recent UCLA hoops championship. So maybe I wouldn't give up the year just yet; can you call back in thirty or forty years and see how things with the Dodgers are going?


Eric Karros said...

42% would give up a year of their life for a championship? Geez.

If all the time I've spent throughout my life getting root canals, sitting in unmoving traffic, stubbing my toe, watching According to Jim, and rebooting my frozen laptop added up to a year and I could give that up, then maybe.

Otherwise, um, no.

Orel said...

This post should be titled "Sax Had Sex in the Dodger Stadium Parking Lot."

Eric Karros said...

Is you've had sex with a professional, is that in itself considered a pro sporting event?

Jason said...

@EK - Only if you had an audience.

MR.F said...

1 out of 20 people have had sex at a sporting event? I guess I've been missing out.

Steve Sax said...

@EK: You're subtracting the time on According to Jim where Kimberly Williams (Paisley) was on camera, right?

Orel said...

@fanerman "1 out of 20 people have had sex at a sporting event? I guess I've been missing out."

Keep going to games, it'll happen eventually. Like catching a foul ball.

Eric Karros said...

1 out of 20 fans have sex during a game? I guess there was some self-gratification occurring at old Expos Stadium.

Eric Karros said...

And FYI Sax, Gary Bettman is the guy who played the little kid in Different Strokes. He's run into trouble of late I've heard.

Jason said...

Wait, according to ESPN the Magazine, our real national anthem is We Will Rock You? Why not Rock and Roll part 2 or Crazy Train or some other 80s era arena rock song?

Or you know, The Star Spangled Banner?

MR.F said...

What about the greatest piece of music ever written: "God Bless America"?

(ugh I can't believe I typed that)

Steve Sax said...

@Jason 2:21p: if you're an ESPN insider, you can read the We Will Rock You article here

Regarding Gary Glitter:

Whatever the reason, we cater to our audience. NBA deejays indulge the fortysomething urban crowd with hip-hop. NFL fans, also in their 40s but less diverse, are fed hard rock. NHL puckheads, who skew slightly older, hear mostly classic rock. Baseball draws the most diverse crowd -- cheaper tickets plus more games mean a wider base -- so major league deejays play something for everyone. The artists, and sometimes even their rap sheets, are irrelevant. For nearly 20 years, Broncos fans celebrated touchdowns with Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll Part II." (You know, the tune with only one lyric: "Hey!") But in 2006, Glitter was sentenced to three years in a Vietnam prison for child molestation. The Broncos stopped playing the song, but callers hounded the team until "Part II" was returned to the rotation.

Nobody is certain who played the first pop song at a sporting event. The "Rock and Roll Part II" tradition dates back to 1974, when Michigan deejay Kevin O'Brien pulled the record from his own collection and started spinning it at Kalamazoo Wings games in the International Hockey League. A few years later, when O'Brien was hired by the NHL's Colorado Rockies (now the New Jersey Devils), he brought the song with him, and it eventually caught on at Broncos games. Now, stadium entertainment is an industry in itself. There's even a trade website called Pro Sports DJs, founded by Sean Bovelsky, the 38-year-old spinner for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Lightning. Only employed sports deejays can log on; 578 are registered, including one from almost every major U.S. pro team. They can learn about popular new songs, or chat on message boards dedicated to their art, like "Clips for Opposing Free Throws" or "Rain-out Songs."

And the best part of the article is the last two grafs:

The best songs are elastic. They maintain relevance because their meaning changes over time, speaking to a greater truth without being about a larger truth. May wrote "We Will Rock You" to appease Queen fans, but what he really did was create an instant community. That's why the U.S. military has used "We Will Rock You" before sending troops out to battle. Or why politicians play it at rallies. May doesn't always like how it's used -- especially by our military -- but he knows he's powerless. "Once you put a song out there," he says, "you say goodbye to it."

And then it hits me: May isn't to blame for his song overtaking our sporting events. We are. We did it to ourselves. We're the ones who need the power of music to form a community because, let's face it, our games aren't enough anymore. We're constantly tweeting or texting or checking our fantasy teams or staring at the shiny new stadiums that distract from the action. Sports deejays aren't ruining the game; they're trying to save it, by reminding us to focus on what's important. And no song grabs our attention faster than a few bars of "We Will Rock You." In fact, when Loomis plays it at Wild games, he never has to finish the song. He just turns up the volume for a couple of seconds, until he sees the crowd rising, stomping and clapping, like "Pavlov's dogs," he says. Then he dials it down, savoring the few precious seconds when nothing needs to be manufactured.

I like the part about song elasticity.

Steve Sax said...

@EK 1:58p: Whachoo talkin' about, EK?

Jason said...

Elastic songs: comforting American sports fans like a pair of well worn sweatpants since 1977.

I see the point of songs like these and it works at the appropriate time like the beginning of a rally in baseball or right before a crucial defensive zone face off in hockey. Between innings and during that 3rd pitching change in the last 8 pitches I'll always prefer Nancy Bea Hefley on the organ.

Casey Lombardo said...

Are "elastic songs" the ones played by rubber bands?

Wakka wakka wakka!

Jason said...

I've been pondering this for over 30 minutes and I still can't figure out what "speaking to a greater truth without being about a larger truth" means.

I think it describes the phrase Giants suck!

Kyle Baker said...

@Fanerman- re GBA

Whatchoo smokin'?

Kyle Baker said...

If 1 of 20 fans have sex at a game, I recommend going to a Marlins game to vastly increase your chances. By my math and by posted attendance records, that means two people are going to get laid.

Nostradamus said...

@Jason 5:57p

I applaud your conclusion with the sound of one hand clapping.

@Dusty 6:30p

I like your thinking, as half of those people in attendance will be Marlins Mermaids. The other half of the crowd, however, will be Marlins Manatees, so caveat emptor.

Anonymous said...

"75% Sneaked into a better seat"

No, no real reason why not,

"67% Yelled obscenities"

I hate to be such a nark, but I HATE this. If you want to boo or yell or whatever, go for it, but there's friggin kids at the game people.

"46% Got drunk"

Nah, my paycheck doesn't allow it, plus I'm usually the one driving.

"41% Scalped or bought a scalped ticket"


"34% Caught a ball or puck"

No, :/

"29% Lied to an acquaintance in order to attend"

No, but I have lied to someone who wanted to attend the game with me to attend it with someone else.

"11% Used a racial slur against an opposing player or fan"

See my comment comment on obscenities. Be a biggot on your own time.

"5% Had sex"

This one surprisd me, but with how oblivious people get when there's a beach ball floating around them, I'm sure there are countless opporunites to do it at Dodger Stadium.

Nostradamus said...

Since I'm sitting here waiting for a mountain of paper to finish printing...

No, but muttered plenty.
Hell Yes
Yes to both
With someone else? (kidding! That would be a no)

Nostradamus said...

As for the bonus question.

Tough, but no.

I enjoy sports for the unexpected. It would suck a lot of the real joy out of winning the big one, plus I'd get more dead.