Earl Gray

Earl Gray
"You can argue with me but, in the end, you'll have to face that fact that you're arguing with a squirrel." - Earl Gray

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Promoting Poetry 1b

Oakland Raider QB and PK George Blanda
    In "Promoting Poetry 1a" we asked the question:  "How does the NFL make most of its money?"  Ticket sales?  Television revenues?  Trademarks?  Something else?

   In 1972 Raider quarterback and placekicker, George Blanda, was the first NFL player drafted in the first Fantasy Football ("FF") league.  With the establishment of the world wide web in the 1990s enthusiasm for FF took off.  Turn your television to the NFL Network channel and you will probably see reference to FF.  Access to the scores database that feeds FF packages, along with advertising revenues directly or indirectly related to FF pages, is currently the NFL's greatest source of income.

    From this, poets can learn that ways to expand and please an audience (and make money) may not be evident even after they are in place, and might be impossible to imagine beforehand.  Even those who joined FF leagues in the 1970s and 1980s couldn't dream of how it would spread a generation later.

    For those who aren't NFL fans, let me explain how FF works.  Participants ("drafters") acquire players (either through ordered picks or via an auction).  NFL players who fail to perform can be replaced with leftover players "on waivers" or as "free agents".  Each week the drafters field a team, leaving the rest of their players inactive (i.e. "on the bench").  The drafter whose activated players garner the most points (e.g. from yardage gains, touchdowns, catches, field goals, etc.) wins.  While true fanatics prefer Independent Defensive Player ("IDP") formats, most FF leagues involve offensive players (and one spot for a defense) only.

Earl the Squirrel's Rule #60
    To an uninformed observer, this creates an odd effect:  contrary to the usual "root, root, root for the home team" tribal zeitgeist, participants cheer for individual players.  That is, if you own players on both sides of the game you're watching you will cheer for whoever has the ball:  "Come on!  Score!"

    From this, poets can learn the value of looking beyond one's geographic, aesthetic and intercommunication environment.  How many foreign anglophone poets do you know?  How many formalists?  Curginistas?  How many onliners or slammers?

Karen Solie
    Try to imagine music without, among countless others, the Beatles, Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, the Who, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen and their influence on American songwriters.  Now ask yourself why poets and poetry are so often prepended with nationalities:  Canadian poet Karen Solie, "The decline of American verse", etc.   

    Another evident effect is the breadth and level of involvement.  Everyone is playing FF.  Fanatically.  Most surprisingly, this includes many people who don't watch the actual games.  Indeed, the majority of Fantasy Footballers will not watch a regular season game that doesn't impact their FF team's chances.  A Fantasy Football fan is not necessarily an avid Football fan.

    From this, poets can learn the importance of involving non-purists/non-poets.  As an audience member, what is my interest--my investment--in a poem?  If none, what are the odds of me becoming a poetry reader? 


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