By Mark Messing
While stale floor-popcorn, the back of someone else’s head, and stiff legs make a good combination, I am going to guess that people don’t go to football games for the way things smell, look, or feel. Live action unequivocally appeals to our need for a thrilling atmosphere, and for the most part, that is built by sound. The cheer of the crowd seems to be unending throughout every game I go to, getting louder for every great play and horrible call. But even during timeouts, the general chatter of the audience, and booming voice of the announcer add energy to the air.
I noticed this during a timeout at the Champs Sports Bowl, when, amongst the babble, I thought I heard someone whispering to me. I asked my friends if they had heard, but they assured me there wasn’t anything more than the lull of the crowd and the mumble of the announcer. I thought I was going crazy.
Later in the game I would figure out what happened when I realized that the whisperer wasn’t whispering at all, but indeed it was the announcer himself, and he was of course talking quite loudly, but I had become so accustomed to ignoring his routine updates that I took very little time to discern the actual words he was saying. And so, when I heard him say something out of the ordinary, instead of something like "2nd and 10," it caught my attention.
"When was the last time you had a Budweiser?" questioned the announcer in his ominous, crowd-controlling voice. And he didn’t say anything else. He would go on to say that one exact phrase 5 more times before the end of the game, adding nothing else about the product or its connection to anything relevant.
Who is with me in thinking that this is cold and creepy? It’s not even a full thought! It is just a disturbing reminder reigning down from above. It is borderline subliminal, as no one actually pays attention to what the announcer is saying, but the crowd is still taking in every word.
I wouldn’t have had a problem if the phrasing wasn’t so weird, but it is almost daring you to drink a Budweiser, judging you for not drinking one recently enough. And we aren’t talking about something people have once a year here, there is good chance that more than a few people in that stadium had a Budweiser within the past ½ hour of hearing the message, making this ad nothing more than an audio frat boy, pressuring the audience to drink past their limits.
Disturbing as it may be, at least I am not going crazy.