Cannibalism

I was discussing with a colleague last week my idea of high-quality audiovisual renderings of fantasy sport matchups.

His response: "But wouldn't we still need to play games to provide new material?"

My reply: Why? Consider the scenario I am suggesting the story of sport in modernity. Why is this story privileged to exist in perpetuity? We have enough characters already, certainly enough adventures, and most certainly enough information. We can call it The Golden Age of Sport (parts 1 and 2 of course — there has to be a sequel …), and in fine prosumer-like, multimedia, postmodern glory, you can interact with this particular story. It's sort of like how a couple of thousand years later we still read about the gods of Greek and Roman mythology. I always thought that mythology was kind of neat in high school — can you imagine what a kid will think a thousand years from now when he sees how Joe Montana and his army of 49ers would fare on the offensive in a simbattle against General Gruden and his vaunted Cover 2 defence?

It will probably be kind of neat then, too.

But it will be really kick-ass awesome in thirty years.

When we still truly care.

Again, why would we continue to play games? Nobody can afford to see them in person. The stadium or arena infrastructure required to keep a professional league going is financially prohibitive, especially considering that it exists primarily as an information-producing studio (particularly for television images). Salaries are skyrocketing, and the global competition is increasing. The leagues are going to have to get into the simulation business, which then means that the live sport side of the product mix will see squeezed margins, as the aforementioned costs continue to rise and revenues slowly start to migrate to the simulation products, The Golden Age of Sport (parts 1 and 2). The leagues will cannibalize their own athletes out of existence.

"We are becoming like cats, slyly parasitic, enjoying an indifferent domesticity. Nice and snug in the social, our historic passions have withdrawn into the glow of an artificial coziness, and our half-closed eyes now seek little other than the peaceful parade of television pictures."

– Jean Baudrillard

You might ask why I am suggesting that we will endlessly replay the story of sport in modernity, and then quote Baudrillard that "our historic passions have withdrawn into the glow of an artificial coziness." It would imply that our historic passions have not withdrawn at all, that we are quite happy to let history entertain us on a regular basis.

That's not what Baudrillard meant. In this case, the "artificial coziness" is the simulated (re)creation of history. It's never having to stray too far from the idyll of youth, never forgetting the days of Mays, or Gretzky, or Jordan. It's the end of the creation of new history.

To view this from a business perspective:

"While we are undoubtedly in an information age, most information is delivered to us in the form of atoms: newspapers, magazines and books. This will change as cheap and (soon) easy to distribute bits begin to edge out atoms, and when the much ballyhooed information superhighway (which is, after all, nothing more than a bit chute) arrives at your door. And when that happens, whole industries will be in upheaval."

– Nicholas Negroponte

The professional sport industry will certainly be in upheaval: The Golden Age of Sport likely means the end of the league governance structure in professional team sport.

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