Whenever my Grandmother was confronted by a person or situation that was beyond the pale of normal behavior, or just over the top, she would always say,
“That’s just too much sugar for a dime.”
I had such an experience surrounding the Mississippi State v LSU football game. I had to be in Starkville for a business meeting on the Friday before the game, and had to book a room in Columbus for a minimum of two nights, so it made sense to meet my brother Steve for the Saturday night game.
On Saturday before game time, I signed my football book My Magic Year at Carolyn Abadie’s Book Mart & Café, and Steve and I were in our seats an hour before kickoff. The game didn’t start until 8:15, and there was a full house on hand. Just before the game started, Steve pointed to the sixty thousand plus fans, the two enormous jumbotrons, and the flashing message boards and asked me,
“When we were students here, did you ever think you’d see such a spectacle?”
I shook my head and replied,
“Not in my wildest dreams. Football games have definitely changed.”
He smiled indulgently and said,
“Tommy, this isn’t a football game, nor is this a football stadium. It’s an entertainment event being held in a multi-media high sensory arena. The football game is only part of tonight’s lineup, and will be played during lulls in the program.”
“So you’re saying that the game isn’t the feature event?” I asked.
“Not really. If the game were not on the program tonight, there would still be sixty thousand people eager to be part of the spectacle. Look around you; most of these folks are under thirty years old. They’ve grown up in a world that is never quiet. They’ve been entertained 24/7 by a host of electronic devices, and they would not sit still and just watch a football game.”
“You might be right, but football still pays the bill for all of this fru ha ha.”
“Not by a long shot. This is nothing more than a huge TV studio, and television pays the bills. In fact, the revenue stream is so large, that not only does it allow participating schools to pay football coaches multimillion dollar salaries, it also supports all of the other sports as well.”
The scales fell away from my eyes, and for the first time I understood what was really happening. I became aware that for every minute of football that was played, there was close to four minutes of other activities. The flow of the game had nothing to do with when these primary events took place. There were numerous times during the game where there would be a four to five minute commercial break, one play on the field, then another four to five minute break.
During these TV breaks, the action in the studio never slowed down. Ear deafening rock music resounded throughout, the jumbotrons were filled with games, contests and human interest features such as the introduction of the 1945 cattle judging team, or the 1965 men’s barbershop quartet that won a championship. T-shirts were shot into the stands, and at one point, everyone turned on the light on their I-Phone and the arena filled with pin points of light akin to the Milky Way on a clear evening.
This whole business took over four hours to complete. LSU defeated State 21-19, but no one seemed concerned one way or the other. As we walked to Steve’s truck, it was abundantly clear that the sixty thousand had received what they came for, a night of high tech entertainment. With the exception of a handful of old goats like me, they were ready to party on into the night.
It was definitely too much sugar for a dime.