Wednesday, June 3, 2015

11 am kickoff times

One of the things I've learned about Texas is that football is year-round news. Even now, when we all should be concentrating on the NBA finals or the NHL Stanley Cup, which have been unreasonably and unseasonably stretched into June when it's sweltering outside and it's difficult to care, instead we are worried about all the 11 am kickoff times throughout the Big 12 schedule. These 11 am kickoffs are the talk of the town, the league, the area, everyone.

Now it's hard not to see this concern as a veil for outright alcoholism. Here you have to make 11 am the peak of your alcohol buzz, which means you start drinking at about 8, which means you have to plant everything - barbeque pit, lawn chairs, port-o-potty, well before that. It's a hardship for people. Most of Tech's fans come from places like Shallowater, Littlefield, Tahoka, etc. Add another hour or two to the equation. Companies have invested thousands into buying and securing kegs, bringing them down to campus, setting up a parking lot space with a covered awning, setting out chairs and tables, chips, barbeque, you name it. You're basically asking them to get up at four or five to get started.

Now there are plenty of locals, myself included, who will argue that all this adds up to less drinking. The average person simply can't drink that much that early, or won't, and that's good. Actually I think they can drink that much that early, but because people are less organized, and have fewer kegs in place when it happens, they do drink less. And that's good for the rest of us citizens. We mostly want to get up and down University without killing ourselves, or be able to walk in the street without being verbally assaulted. To us a home game that's all over by two or three is almost as good as an away game.

It's ironic to me that this whole 11 am thing is driven by television. I guess I should admit that the whole thing is, when you get down to it, even the game itself. Here in Texas, there is an enormous live following: people fill the stadiums, and even the students can't get in (and college football is supposed to be for the students). But nationwide, the interest in, say, the OU - UT game on television, outside the OK / TX area, is considerable, and much more lucrative, and this is what they're interested in, harvesting interest from outside the area and bringing that mone here. These teams play in their stadium, you make maybe what, a couple mil? And it's all OK / TX money. But they play on television, at 11 am, you make 60 mill, 100 mill, something like that, and it's national advertising bucks. I don't know the numbers. But apparently the numbers are determining the kickoff times. And the kickoff times are determining the total alcohol consumption.

People don't want to watch a 2:30 game. Wives let that happen, then it's football all day, 11 am, 2:30, 5, and maybe 7, and of course 9, maybe take a few minutes to eat. A whole Saturday shot, and it's not even time for NFL. They take aim at that 2:30 game and tell their husbands, you promised to sweep out the garage. And the ratings go down for that middle one. And let's face it, the whole thing is entertainment for a wide swath of men who might have come close during college, but now the best they can do is watch it on television, and fantasize about those years when they could bash into someone and it would make a difference. More about this later, but I'm interested in whether we aren't generating a huge entertainment machine in which there are clear victims, the young who keep getting fed into it, whereas the world's television viewing audience, the financial engine of the machine, is creating an imperative that we deliver up the bodies and pay them appropriately. Well I assure you, they're talking about it, anyway. If my son wants to use his journalism degree, and write every day, what he needs to write about is 11 am kickoff times. That's the kind of article everyone is reading.