Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Crowd noise

Here's a joke, to get things started this day. You know the one that goes "I went to a fight last night and a hockey game broke out"?

The Blob has a couple variations on that theme.

One goes like this: "I went to Notre Dame Stadium last Saturday, and Athens, Ga., broke out."

The other goes like this: "I went to the Los Angeles Coliseum last Sunday, and ... hey, how come I'm the only one who went to the Los Angeles Coliseum last Sunday?"

OK, so that's not quite true. But check this out. It's not that far off, either.

Lots of L.A. pro football fans (largely mythical creatures, like unicorns) stayed away, clearly, and let's give 'em the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps this was Dress Like An Empty Seat Day. Perhaps everyone was in the bathroom when this photo was taken. Or, perhaps, L.A. just doesn't like pro football all that much, given that it's only the second year the Rams have been back and the novelty's obviously already worn off.

Nah. That couldn't be it, could it?

I mean, it can't be, because the NFL was so desperate to return to L.A. it stole not one but two franchises and put them in the City of Angels. Here's what the NFL won't tell you, though: The league didn't do that because Los Angeles is, ever has been or ever will be a pro football town;  demonstrable proof to the contrary exists in abundance.  It's because L.A. is the No. 2 TV market in America, and TV runs every dance on the card now. And so the NFL is all in on L.A.

Even if everyone would still rather be at the USC game.

And speaking of college football, let's go to Notre Dame Stadium, where, yes, Athens, Ga., did indeed break out Saturday. Vast swaths of the House That Rockne Built were draped in Georgia red, and some folks in Domer Nation thought that was a disgrace.

It wasn't. Actually, it was just the hallowed free market at work.

Notre Dame, after all, is ground zero for college football lore, and Domer Nation can thank itself for that. It's done such a good job of selling Notre Dame as College Football Mecca that a game there has become a destination event. And so fans of visiting teams routinely gobble up tickets at outlandish prices for the chance to walk where Rockne and Leahy and Ara walked.

Fair Catch Corby, it seems, could just as easily be called I've Got Two On The 50-Yard Line Corby. And for what the good Father could get for those two, who could blame him?

So, yeah, Notre Dame Stadium's home-field advantage is routinely not much of a home-field advantage. And not just because of the ticket-selling. Part of it is also because the most raucous fans -- the students -- are stuffed in one corner of the end zone, while the midfield seating goes to old-fart alums who tend to sit on their hands.

Saturday night, that was exacerbated by all those Georgia fans. Georgia, after all, had never played at Notre Dame Stadium. So Dawg fans were willing to pay through the nose for tickets -- and Notre Dame fans were just as willing to sell.

Supply and demand. That's how the free market works.

Like it or not.

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