Flows and Consumer-Rhythms

In a much earlier sportsBabel post discussing baseball legend Ted Williams and his cryogenesis, I summed up the critique with the following passage: "Baseball, fighter pilots, motor oil: all the rich symbolism of industrial-age corporeality disintegrating into information, signaling the decay of the American Empire and freezing it for the posterity of future history. The triumph of modern capitalism, rational science, and abstract individualism have led us to the logical end point where the only economic and social need left to be served is to supersede the limits of our human bodies. We have trouble accepting the fact that we die. We are hysterical about aging. Surely human ingenuity can overcome these limits? Yet ne'er shall The Greatest Generation understand the ecology of this brave new world it has set us towards and thus it seeks solace in the warm nostalgic embrace of the simulated (re)creation of history."

Yankee StadiumRecruiting StationGas Pump

While there is a definitive shift in all forms of sports media towards a dissolution into a single information stream, we should not confuse this together with the historical progression in sports media from newspaper to telegraph to radio to television to videogame and internet as if it were a linear evolution with each successive stage obsolescing the one prior. Each medium in fact persists (though perhaps in slightly modified form with the subsequent advent of newer media forms) simply because it serves a particular rhythm and its attendant ritual as, for example, with locals at the Corner Bistro in New York who casually flip through scores and standings in the newspaper sports pages on a weekday afternoon while idly scanning the Yankees-Red Sox tilt on the YES network.

This is desirable for sporting capital: to sell the same original stream of information not so much to different consumers, but to different consumer-rhythms. In other words, when the original stream of information, images and identities leaves the production space of the stadium to become a television broadcast, web page, fantasy sports league, etc., it is not simply a break in the flow in the sense articulated by Deleuze and Guattari, but also a break into various distinct rhythmical outputs.

Of course, in the business of sports media (vectoralism) this is but a primary consumption; individual consumers in resonant harmony with one particular consumer-rhythm or another are themselves packaged into "audiences" for distribution to third-party corporate sponsors. As such, these latter sponsors have the opportunity to purchase across rhythms, or to select specific rhythms for their advertising campaigns.


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