Book Excerpts That Don't Suck: "The Football Fan's Manifesto"

Today's a glorious day. Michael Tunison aka Kwanzaa Primate's utterly fantastic book has arrived and he's graciously given us an excerpt. Plus! He's here to live chat with you. Buy it then pepper him with inane questions.

Suggested discussion topics:

• The systematic art of running onto the field naked
Books to the face
• Unwritten rules of fandom
Books to the face
• Roger Goodell's upper body strength
Books to the face
• Laura Ling

But seriously, Ape's one of the most talented and funniest writers to bubble-up from the blog sludge. He's infinitely worthy of your time and money. Show your support.

And now...an excerpt. Enjoy.

V.2 Personal Seat Licenses Are a Bigger Rip-off than Buying a Home

Now that the housing market is dicked and the nation's economy is in the crapper, at what other moment could fans be more receptive to forking over more cash for the right to purchase tickets? I write in reference to the ever-infuriating phenomenon of the personal seat license, a one-time cost, usually in the thousands, which entitles the owner to the right to continue paying for season tickets each year until another stadium is opened and the cost is charged again.

PSLs aren't a new phenomenon, as they're believed to have been around for about twenty years, but they've been brought to the fore with their ever escalating costs. The reason cited by sports organizations as to why they impose these outrageous fees on consumers is that PSLs supposedly offset the expense of constructing stadia, many of which are already paid for in large part by taxpayer dollars. Are fans demanding venues that cost squillions of dollars? Not really, but that doesn't stop owners from launching into a space race against each other for bigger and higher capacity venues. The owners opt for these leviathans then pass the cost on to the fans. The gall is as astounding as it is predictable.

When the Giants and the Jets move into their new $1.3 billion shared stadium in the Meadowlands in 2010, every seat will require a PSL for the Giants and nearly every one for the Jets, with the PSL fee for a few thousand spots in the lower bowl of the stadium reaching as much as $25,000 per seat. The Jets auctioned off 620 PSLs of choice seats in the new stadium and drew more than $16 million for the winning bids. Of course, a fair percentage of those bidding for seats are companies in the business of reselling tickets, which only extends the daily chain of corporate fleecing of the average fan.

About half the teams in the league have policies that require PSLs. That's half a league ready to dry-hump their fans for the sweet release of the green. Why anyone would allow themselves to be fleeced by these organizations, no matter how much you may love their product on the field, is beyond the bounds of reason. Fandom knows no quit, but it does know a shit deal when it sees one.

Imagine the hubris that gives rise to these policies. In what other business can companies force a membership fee on customers only for the right to purchase their product? Demand for the NFL product being what it is, the owners think they're insulated from the cost of alienating a wide swath of their fans, but there's only so long, especially with the looming threat of uncapped player salaries, that these practices can continue without it starting to chip into the all-important bottom line.

The fan experience in the live event is increasingly becoming the providence of the superwealthy and the super-profligate. The new generation of stadia that's been built in the past decade crams more seats in and, with prohibitive prices, marshals loud die-hard fans further from the field. Watching the game on TV is not without its flaws (e.g., Phil Simms, Chris Berman, Tony Kornheiser), but it is certainly a much better value than paying through the nose for attending a game where fans are fleeced on concessions, limited by infantilizing fan conduct policies, and generally treated like unwelcome houseguests in overbuilt plutocrat strongholds.

The practice is an insidious money grab devised by billionaires looking for bailouts on their own risky business endeavors. If some fans are economically secure enough that it isn't a bother for them, great for them. But the owners may find that, in tougher economic straits, there will not be as many people comfortable doling out tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege of being bilked on an annual basis. We may love our teams, but that doesn't mean we need to love their scams.

Now, talk to Mr. Tunison down below. He's here to illuminate.