Endless State Fair segues into the endless Olympics

Free market, Olympics, State Fair, Television, West Allis

Thank you to everybody who expressed their concern.

Before I get into my rant on the Olympics, let me first, the wrap-up my State Fair commentary.

On the last day of the Fair on Sunday, we were able to park 15 cars... the first 13 (my yard's capacity) were parked in about 90 minutes.  All told for the Fair, we parked 128 cars in 11 days, and we increased our revenue by 40%.  State Fair officials reported a 9% increase in attendance, and I think that perfect weather had a lot to do with it.

When My-Sugar-Na returned, I promised her anything she wanted for dinner.  She chose a return trip to the State Fair, so after parking the last blue Nissan Sentra in our garage about 6:00 PM, we headed northeast, knowing that - at best - we had three hours before closing.  With (Sponsor's Name Here)'s Official Son, Mitten and Official Stepdaughter, Sloppy, in tow, My-Sugar-Na had three things in mind for dinner; onion rings, corn and a hamburger.

When we were at the Fair on Thursday evening, we stood in one particular spot and could smell a heavy dose of onions.  We could see Miss Katie's Diner and a sign for onion rings, so we assumed that was the place.  Although the rings from Miss Katie's were good, I think we figured out that the onion smell was coming from Charlie's Italian Sausage stand.  Smelling them, Mitten decided that was his dinner instead of anywhere else.

Next was a stop at the traditional New Berlin Lions Club corn stand... for corn.  Then we made it to the Beef trailer for My-Sugar-Na's hamburger while I had a surprisingly tender ribeye sandwich.  At that point, she said it was time to go.  Mitten and Sloppy were allowed to stay there while we headed home.  While headed out a little after 7:30, and they had stopped selling tickets.  There were still plenty of people at the Fair - with more coming in - and it made me wonder why the Fair ends at 9:00 on the last Sunday.  Would two more hours hurt anyone?  Based on the number of people that I saw, I would tend to think that there would still be money to be made for vendors and restaurants.

All in all, it was a great Fair... for both the residents of the area as well as the folks that brought you the Fair.  Bring on 2009.

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Which brings me to the Olympics.  I could - and want to - go on and on about what is wrong with the Olympics (side note, I still have a week to rant about them, so stay tuned.)  But my biggest complaint is that the Olympics is about anything BUT the athletes. 

I know that NBC spent a kajillion dollars in television rights fees, and a few bazillion more on all of the technical folks and talent to be on-site in Bejing to bring us the sights and sounds.  And sponsors pay untold amounts to be the Official-this or Official-that.  Then you have the equipment providers that want the athletes to win, only so they can say that their equipment was used by the medal winners.  (You may be saying "But Mr. Freemarket, if NBC and Speedo think they can make a buck, what is the problem?")  The problem is that this is an athletic competition.  But that doesn't seem to matter to anybody.

For example, Michael Phelps will win all those medals.  Neither Phelps the person nor any of his dozen competitors even matter... just the "Michael Phelps brand" does;  the world records, Mark Spitz, his mom hugging Cris Collinsworth, etc.  In every one of the races there are from seven to 31 other competitors.  Not one of those other swimmers matter, basically, they are just ballast to the story.  Did, say, the Swiss swimmer have a recent injury to overcome?  Is the Japanese swimmer in Lane 7 upset that in a previous race there might have been some preferential treatment?  We'll never know, because the "Michael Phelps brand" is in the race.

Another big picture example is that in the telecasts, coverage is slanted to only one opponent.  For the Teenage Girls Gymnastics Team event, it was the USA vs. the Chinese.  Period.  Was anyone else competing?  The only way to find out is outcue to commercials, when the graphics of the current standings are shown.  Near the end, NBC showed a graphic that China was leading the USA by one point.  Then during the floor exercise, Johnny Sac's relative choked, and in the final standings the Chinese won by a couple of points.  A graphic then showed that Romania took the bronze medal a full 7-1/2 points back.  The USA teeny-boppers were falling, fouling and dropping all over the place... in terms of covering the event, it sure would have put it in perspective to see how awful those other teams were.  But nope, no objective broadcasting here.  The brand was the super-cute American girls (who weren't expected to win) against those mean, underage Chinese.

When the world stops adoring the Olympics for something its not (an athletic competition) and accepts something it is (a made-for-TV, infomercial), then maybe I can get into watching them.  Until then, I am banished to the bedroom TV waiting for the Brewers to start their west coast games.

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