Arena Football in a Disneyized World

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Ever since the beginning of the 1970s, Disney World has become an influential blueprint that many companies have used do business in society. Disney World has many different techniques and ideas that have allowed them to produce maximum gain in all facets of society. This is known as ‘Disneyization,' "the process by which the principles of the Disney theme parks are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society as well as the rest of the world" (Bryman, 1999, p. 26). Disneyization is broken up into five separate principles: spectacularization, theming, dedifferentiation of consumption, merchandising, and emotional labor. These principles have been adopted by companies all around the world and have been thrown into full practice today in our society. One area where Disneyization has been evident is in the sporting world. Commissioner of the National Basketball Association (NBA), David Stern, is a prime example, stating, "They [Disney] have theme parks…and we have theme parks. Only we call them arenas. They have characters: Mickey Mouse, Goofy. Our characters are named Magic and Michael [Jordan], etc" (Andrews, 2006, p. 15). However, ever since 1987, one professional sports league has adopted every aspect of Disneyization to appeal to the masses, known as the Arena Football League (AFL). Because of the heavy competition in promoting the AFL against other professional sports, the league has been forced to make the most of the five aspects of Disneyization. These aspects of Disneyization are extremely important and prove that the AFL has become the most "Disneyized" professional sports league in the United States today. Spectacularization is probably the most evident principle of Disneyization. It has been described as the "transformation and manufacturing of cultural element into highly popular forms of entertainment across mass media" (Andrews, 2006, p. 13). Basically, the goal is to create a spectacle providing additional entertainment to its audience. This can be proven throughout many sporting arenas. There are fireworks, jets flying overhead stadiums, music, and plenty of other forms of entertainment designed to enhance the viewing experience for fans. Arlen Kantarian, Chief Executive of the United States Tennis Association, commented on the importance of spectacularization, saying, "It starts with the players, but it has to extend beyond that. We always want to create tennis (or any sport) as the main theater. However, it doesn't mean we can't create some sideshows for the more casual fan" (Boeck, 2002, p. 1). Spectacularization is hand in hand with sports today in order to draw all different types of fans, and it is taken to a higher level in Arena Football. Arena Football has needed to become a spectacle in order to compete with the National Football League (NFL). Since the NFL has been America's most popular sport as of late, the AFL has been forced to come up with a show along with a football game that will attract fans. This has resulted in creating changes to particular NFL rules that encourage more scoring, action, and a faster moving pace. The field has been condensed to fifty yards; there is no out of bounds, but a padded barrier enclosing the field. Eight players are on each side and play offense and defense, and only one player is allowed to move forward on offense to give a major advantage. In addition, the uprights to kick a field goal have raised and drawn closer together in order to force teams to attempt to score touchdowns as opposed to settling for field goals (Pereria, 2005). This type of football is designed for the "casual fan" that wants to see more excitement and points as opposed to a "traditional fan" interested in seeing how the game should be played based on its origins. Off the field, there is a great deal on entertainment surrounding the football game. Whenever the game has a time out there is some kind of promotion happening, whether giving away a...
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