How to Judge Performance in the Ring of Popular SentimentJust as the dual dimensions of volume and velocity size up fluid flow in a metaphor, so also does popular sentiment express itself in the metrics of consumption. However hard core consumers compute gain from pain, would the UFC sell more pay per views than dart throwing pub patrons in merry old England without the muscular momentum of popular sentiment? Bear with me in acclaiming Facebook the most popular sport anywhere that it’s not being censored, while also beholding two other Pale Riders on Twitter and YouTube. There is just no begging the question of this consumption’s metrics. While you might not think of these as competitive sports, let me remind you what Niccolò Machiavelli observed about the ends justifying the means. (Chapter XVIII of "The Prince") Let me also key word ‘entertainment’ into the search engine for such murky motivations as are intestinal to popularity contests. Amongst all of the permutations that motivate us to consume entertainment, sports are a variety of performance art akin to music in packaging and distribution. We can consume (experience) these kinds of ‘entertainment’ live as though in concert, at the ball park or in an arena. The metric for such consumption is ticket sales, a/k/a the box office or the live gate. (“Dana White tells Yahoo! Sports that the paid gate at UFC 175 in Las Vegas was estimated to surpass $5 million.”) We can also consume (experience) these kinds of entertainment derivatively through whatever medium gains us access to their performance. The metrics for such remote consumption derive mostly from screen views, though radio remains a viable and monetize-able medium on the same order as tv ratings. It is actually through monetizing derivative consumption – in all of its ingenious varieties – that we get most of our sports consumption metrics. They range from straight forward screen views (tv ratings) – that fold into the even more derivative advertising revenues – to pay-per-views (ppv’s) to subscription models like cable tv bundles and downloadable apps. Pretty much any communication medium can be adapted to distribute the common denominator of monetize-able messages. If you put all of this in an analytical blender, what comes out is a metric for popular sentiment. This brings us back to the dual dimensions of volume and velocity – or rather momentum – in terms of popular sentiment’s trend. Keeping our focus on the entertainment quotient in competitive sports, the metrics of consumption regress to a mean around performance artists. True enough, some of us are indiscriminate in our play lists. You’re just not going to make a convincing case, though, that Jay-Z doesn’t sell more albums than an anonymous voice coming out of an unfamiliar face. It is an irrefutable fact that the UFC sold nearly 3x more ppv’s for Weidman vs. Silva II than business as usual. Now let’s dial this down to our own humble cottage industry of a sport, where ticket sales are a metric that happens to be derivative from pay-to-play. It doesn’t get more humble than ticket quotas for neighborhood gyms, whose favorite sons and daughters zealously work the box office for the quid pro quo of fighting for local bragging rights. Neither does it get more deer-in-the-headlights exactly what motivates these most avid of fans to express their popular sentiment in a monetized (ticket) consumption metric. So, public sentiment’s nature – in the species of competitive sports – is no less monogamous (at least transiently) than British tennis fans romance with Andy Murray during the Summer Olympics at Wimbledon. Successful match makers make it their business, therefore, to pivot off the functional equivalent of individual performers going viral with a fan population. Don’t take my word for it. Take a poll, rather, of public sentiment in Cleveland on the occasion of Lebron James coming back home to the Cavs. Even though basketball is a team sport – unlike our solitaire edition of whack a mole – star power gets the most headlines in competitive sports exactly because it’s the same as a best selling brand. So much so that we enshrine our favorites in halls of fame, while the most epic of teams are lucky to get a cameo in a nostalgia documentary on ESPN. Boxing scores highest on the popularity index for our generic product mix. This is due in no small measure to its legacy of public sentiment across generations. It is also because boxing has been able to mint star power with staying power, like Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Who among those of us old enough to remember doesn't sometimes amble down memory lane – à la fans of the other mainstream (team) sports – nostalgic for the primes of Muhammad Ali, “Smoking” Joe Frazier and George Foreman? We had the epic athletes, and we had the drama of competition between them.
Let’s Go to the ScorecardsThink of everything up until here as the rules meeting. We’ve done our due diligence on the essential criteria that apply to judging a competitive sports enterprise in the ring of popular sentiment. Now let’s go to the score cards for kick boxing. You be the judge. Give it two grades. One for performance – specifically on Glory Sports International’s watch – and the other for potential growth in popularity on the basis of whatever metrics can support a reasonable inference. (See “Kickboxing and the Curious Case of Eternal Fatalism” by Dave Walsh on LiverKick.com, posted on August 21, 2004) Name one pair of kickboxers, whose match-up would be so epic that it’d set off a ticket scalping frenzy within commuting distance of the live gate, while also selling upwards of a million ppv’s. If you can’t, then either Glory World Series is doing something wrong or it just might be tilling barren soil. Suspending our judgment on the premise of a purse fertilizer’s work-in-progress kind of assumes that the working capital problem will solve itself. This is “such stuff as dreams are made on”. What’s not part of the solution – you know the drill – there is always some illusion built into a disappearing act. Illusion casts its shadow across a whole buffet of novelties, gimmicks and deceptive appearances. Judge the appearance in Glory World Series of Grand Prix elimination tournaments by this criterion: does it promote any performers – whose charisma we know is the molecular compound for contagious in popular sentiment – or does it aim rather to curate performance art, as though galleries or museums can ever be a successful business model in competitive sports? In judging whether the appearance of Grand Prix elimination tournaments in Glory World Series is operationally (self) deceptive, we can also get there through deductive logic:
- K-1 organized its entire business model around Grand Prix elimination tournaments. (See “Yay or Nay: Is it time for kickboxing to move on from tournaments? ” by John Joe O’Regan on Bloody Elbow, posted August 13, 2014)
- K-1’s business model was unsuccessful.
- The copying of K-1’s business model by Glory Sports International’s branding obsessives – in their misguided belief that WWE operates by the same public sentiment principles as competitive sports – what part of this don’t they get?