I’m watching tonight’s Canucks-Sharks game, and it’s reminding me of why I haven’t been watching much hockey recently. No, it’s not San Jose’s stretches of lackluster play this season; that’s irksome, but not necessarily a deal-breaker for me. On top of that disappointment, the straw that’s been breaking my back lately has been those damn ads on the glass behind the goalies.
These superimposed ads aren’t new to sports fans; we’ve been seeing them in other venues for years. But I personally find the ads on the glass at each end of the ice particularly obtrusive and galling. The ads slathered all over the boards in NHL rinks seem to be a necessary evil, but at least they’re covering blank space.
Those green screen banners on the glass? In most arenas they’re covering someone’s face–or rather, the faces of several someones. It’s distracting and insulting to see an image projected over the faces of the fans in the stands. I’m aware that they’re only visible on the broadcast, and that the fans in the arena can’t see them; but that’s not really the point. From the home viewer’s perspective, the team is using their fans’ faces as billboard space. Could there be any clearer expression of the hatred and contempt sports franchises feel for their fans? Sports fans suffer a lot of indignities these days, just as a matter of course in enjoying their three hours of fun and distraction; do franchises really need to treat them like they’re not even there?
These ads are even more galling when they’re not even paid ads–throughout tonight’s broadcast many of the graphics have been pushing the Sharks’ website or game ticket orders. The team is insulting their fans, and they’re not even making any money on it? What the hell? Why have ads for the team there? THE WHOLE DAMN BROADCAST IS AN AD FOR THE TEAM! If your team is not wringing a few more bucks out of Budweiser, TAKE THE DAMN THING OFF THE SCREEN.
This is not a problem limited to San Jose’s audience; I’ve seen these same ads on broadcasts for Washington, Philadelphia, Chicago, and others. (Locations where Comcast dominates; should we even be surprised?) Enough is enough; treat those paying customers behind the goals with the minimum of respect; it’s literally the least teams can do.