Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Power of Sports

Having worked professionally as a newspaper sports editor, I have a moderate love for sports. This has been fueled by my move to Columbus, where we have a real sports talk radio station, 1460 - The Fan.

After hurricane Katrina, several columnists questioned the value of sport in the larger scale. I largely ignored this debate. Last weekend I attended the OSU football game versus San Diego State. The announced attendance at Ohio Stadium was 104,000+, and tickets cost at least $50. Even math phobics can see that adds up to $5 million before parking and concessions. That's one stadium in one town. Michigan (the devil), OSU, Penn State, and Tennessee all seat more than 100,000 in their football stadiums. That means on any given Saturday, we might account for $20 million of the GDP in four buildings.

So what? Driving to work this week, I heard on the radio that Reese Witherspoon's 'Just Like Heaven' led all movies nationally with $16,408,718. Although this was a weak showing for the top movie, the figure nonetheless included 3,508 theaters, according to Box Office Mojo. Thus, the top 4 college football games -- allegedly an amateur sport -- outdid thousands of movie screens.

The point is that the sports industry is big business. Although I would have readily included movie studios in that category, I never realized the relative power of sport.


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