Yet another American value.
I just checked a ticket broker on line and found that there were fifty-yard-line seats available for the Vikings-Eagles game in Philadelphia this weekend for a mere $855 a ticket. I am impressed. By comparison, a ticket for the same seat at Lambeau Field for the game last weekend between the Vikings and the Packers was cheap – about half the price, in the neighborhood of $400. Monthly rent for that roughly six square feet of space would run at about $48,000 a month, if you lived there (without a private bathroom) – and that’s in Green Bay, not Philadelphia!
Sitting in the out-of-doors in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on a January afternoon, at any price, is not my idea of a good time. Along with millions of others I watched the game in my living room, went to the bathroom at will and ate whatever I felt like from the kitchen. But I am not a good test case. So I asked some dedicated fans, the kind who will drive hundreds of miles to see a game they are interested in, if they would buy tickets in that price range if they could afford them.
None of them would - but obviously people did. At game time no empty seats were visible, that I could see. That meant I was looking at some people who had paid hundreds of dollars for the privilege of sitting in 27 degree weather, complete with sleet. They were fortunate. In Green Bay on that date, it might just as easily have been ten below zero.
My rent analogy is absurd. So was my informal survey. But we are left with the bare fact that thousands of people during January pay hundreds of dollars apiece for the privilege of watching football games — out of doors, in places where the mean temperature is below freezing. The good old American response is that it is their business and their money. And I agree with that. Some hobbies and entertainments are big-ticket items to be sure, and who am I to place an artificial value on other people’s pleasure? Football is no worse that rock concerts, etc. etc.
My conclusion is not about how much Americans spend on pleasure, but on how little we acknowledge it when we are trumpeting “American Values.” We do not include our penchant to spend an awful lot on ourselves.