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Some Thoughts About Advertising

Whenever I critique some form of advertising in the sports world, someone inevitably says, “You’re such a hypocrite! You say you’re against advertising, but you have ads all over your website! And you advertise your products on Twitter!”

This would indeed be a powerful critique — if it were true that I’m opposed to advertising.

But here’s the thing: I have never — literally not one single time — said that I’m opposed to advertising. What I have said many times, and what I will continue to say, is that I’m opposed to advertising where it doesn’t belong.

One place it doesn’t belong is on uniforms. Another place is on the names of stadiums and arenas. I have opposed those forms of advertising and will continue to do so. Why? For starters, because the spread of advertising and corporate culture into public space is a problem in our society. And also because teams and leagues already make money from overpriced tickets, overpriced parking, overpriced food and drink, the sale of broadcast rights, merchandising, and more. They don’t need advertising on their uniforms or stadium names — that’s just greed.

This website, by contrast, gives away its content — the content you are reading right now — for free. The primary way the site generates revenue is through advertising. And while internet websites are a fairly new phenomenon, the basic concept of media enterprises being underwritten by advertising is a funding model that dates back literally for centuries.

So if you think there’s an apples-to-apples comparison to be made between the kinds of advertising that I critique and the kind of advertising that appears on this website and on my Twitter feed, well, you can think that if you want. But I strongly disagree.

I do agree, however, that the site would be better without ads. It would look cleaner and I wouldn’t have to waste so much time chasing down payments. The simplest way for get rid of the ads would be for you and the rest of the readership to start paying for the content that you read here each day.

What do you say?