There is a Yiddish word – chutzpah – that is defined to mean “gall’’, “audacity” or “nerve.”
Here is a story definition:
This year, the NFL announced that it was considering three musical acts to perform at halftime of this winter’s Super Bowl. Those acts were Coldplay, Rihanna and Katy Perry.
The NFL also announced it was suggesting the halftime acts contribute a portion of their post-Super Bowl live act proceeds back to the NFL as a “thank you’’ for the boost the Super Bowl appearance gives to their popularity.
That right there is “chutzpah.”
As it is, Super Bowl performers are not paid; at least Bruno Mars was not paid last year. The NFL carries the expense of putting on the show, which is all lights and glitter and fireworks and light shows, and the expense for that last year was estimated at $10 million.
The NFL gets $4 million for every 30-second commercial run during the Super Bowl, and there are a lot of commercials. The halftime show probably did not break the league.
But the NFL also suggested the eventual music act at this year’s Super Bowl give up a portion of future download revenue, or stick to only NFL stadiums for live performances, or allow the league to produce a documentary about the halftime show, which the league could profit from.
That’s nerve, or audacity, right there.
But the NFL is nothing compared to the requests made by other organizations when it comes to offering their services as an exposure tool.
The king of all in that area is the International Olympic Committee.
Long the focus of corruption accusations related to the bidding process for Olympic Games, the IOC expects royal treatment when they visit potential sites. They probably expect financial payoffs as well.
The bidding process for the 2002 Winter Games is underway, and cities are pulling out like crazy. Krakow, Poland; Stockholm, Sweden; Munich, Germany and Oslo, Norway recently decided not to play. In almost every case, the citizenry was given the chance to vote on hosting the games and the public loudly declared they don’t want to host the games.
At this point, the only two suitors for the Olympics is Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan.
But, in order to host the games, Oslo found out just how much it has to kowtow to the needs of the IOC committee. According to Deadspin, the IOC requested (among other things), dedicated highway lanes for IOC member cars (donated with attending drivers), streetlights synchronized to allow for ease of travel for IOC traffic, Samsung phones for all IOC members, a separate airport entrance set up for members, and all meeting rooms kept at exactly 68 degrees.
That last one is an example of someone saying “We have asked for everything we can ask for, haven’t we?” and someone else saying “we haven’t asked for meeting rooms to be kept at an exact temperature yet” and everybody on the IOC committee nodding how that would be a great thing to demand.
FIFA, the governing body of international soccer, makes similar demands when it offers the men’s World Cup every four years. They expect FIFA officials to be coddled when they arrive for the games, but they mostly expect large sums of money to pay for their bid votes to host the games, which is why oil-rich Qatar won out over the less rich United States for the 2022 games.
This would all be funny if it wasn’t so sad. Sochi, Russia spent $51 billion to host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, and Brazil spent $11.5 billion to host the 2014 World Cup, building half a dozen new stadiums for huge crowds that will never again host significant games and are expected to become fallow in very short order.
The Women’s World Cup soccer tournament, a far less popular event than the men’s World Cup, is being held in Canada next summer. Do you want to know why? Canada was the only country willing to offer itself for host, a fact that is now getting the country and FIFA into trouble because all of the stadiums Canada wants to host games have artificial turf and the women don’t want to have to play on artificial turf. The men don’t have to, so they want to know why they have to.
In world history, civilizations have collapsed because they got too large. Corporations have folded because of economic hubris. American banks would have folded for the same reason seven years ago if not bailed out by the American government.
In literary terms, the phrase that comes to mind is “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” In street parlance, the phrase that comes to mind is “too big for their britches.”
I hope Rihanna tells the NFL they can punt their payoff demands for halftime entertainment.
I hope somebody puts the IOC and FIFA and the NFL in their respective places. For the IOC, that place just might be Kazakhstan.