The best things in life are free?

The term “corporate world” usually conjures up images of executives spending all morning examining spread sheets for ways to make more money and then treating themselves to a three-martini lunch.
Deserved or not, the label “empty suit” springs to mind.
But these days I do not think of the corporate world as a bunch of empty suits as much as a bunch of empty seats.
See, I am watching quite a bit of the French Open tennis tournament on TV and, during the early rounds at least, there are so many empty seats in the stands one might think no one in Paris cares to attend. When the camera pans wider, however, you soon realize this is not true. The upper decks, the “cheap” seats if you will, are jammed. It’s only the preferred seating, those seats right next to the courts, that are empty.
There’s a reason for this.
The corporate world.
While there may not be many fans down close to the courts, there are plenty of signs from major sponsors who not only paid damn sassy to have their banners visible on almost every serve or return, but also got a block of courtside seats for their investment. No mere mortal is allowed in these seats even if they sit empty because no one at the office gives a hoot about tennis.
Oh, they’ll come out for the semi-finals and finals because this will be the place to be, and more importantly the place to be seen.
But as for the tennis itself? Eh.
Those of us who’ve been tennis fans for decades remember when little guys like us could actually buy one of those seats … if we had the money, of course. But we also remember that if any of the pricey seats were not filled for a match, the ushers would let you occupy them. Why not? Who was it hurting?
Well, for the past 20 years or so it’s hurting the corporate sponsors, that’s who. Once you’ve shelled out big bucks for that block of seats, you don’t want to find out any of the unwashed masses wound up sitting in them.
Those of us who love the game may not like this but we understand it. Without major sponsors there’d be no tennis. We get that.
It’s the same reason the Phillies not longer play at Connie Mack Stadium, named after their legendary manager, but at Citizens Bank Park. The tribute to Connie Mack, no matter how rich, doesn’t pay the bills.

Ed Ackerman