Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Modest Proposal, Pt. the Third

(Realizing my post was getting waaaaaay long, and as a gift in the holidays, here is part two of We Taught A Generation to Steal)

Learn from the entertainment world: No band makes money off records any more. Digital dimes, remember? They make money to support themselves and create a profit from touring. Performing. Selling merchandise. In the past, the world worked the other way around -- the merch was to promote the sale of the record. Now the record promotes the sale of other things.

In the education world, we "make" money from state appropriations and tuition. States want to cut appropriation and play accountability games with what you get. Tuition continues to rise, and students begin to ask, am I getting what I need for the money I'm spending.

In athletics, we are insulated at the top from the realities of economics by the socialistic practices of the conference rights packages. The 99% in non-BCS and below Division I is going broke trying to keep up.

So they propose things like limiting the number of staff that football can have. Sounds a lot like limiting the number of pages in press guides, then eliminating press guides.

Remember when those decisions were going to save us?

People -- money has to be spent and as long as it is coming in by the bushels from the networks, it will be consumed. We all managed to get by with just one or two video coordinators in the past, but because we can, we have three or five.

Once upon a time, we produced events for the people in the stands. Like the record business, they are not the auxiliary profit center to the main audience -- the one that is distant.

The result is we begin to creep up our own costs -- athletic or academic -- through ticket prices or tuition hikes. One day we discover, we have priced ourselves out of the markets we were originally designed to serve.

While free doesn't work, a $12 women's basketball ticket for a team that can't post a winning record in its league and in an entertainment market where far cheaper and better alternatives exist is no better.

We need to start thinking about the "dime point" in the middle. iTunes worked because it was 99-cents to start. Enough to cover the cost if the volume was there. Now it's up to $1.29 for new stuff. That's a dramatic jump -- almost a third of the original price. Over time, will the market bear it?

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