Want to See Money Waste? Attend an NFL Game.

October 28, 2008 by  
Filed under Money and Behavior, Spending

Mr. ToughMoneyLove went to the Titans vs. Colts game last night.  I enjoyed it immensely, as my family members have been fans since the team moved to Tennessee.  Even though I have been to many games, I still come away in wonderment at the money folks spend at the stadium.  Some (including me) would call many of those expenditures pure money waste. 

First, I acknowledge my apparent hypocrisy because lots of folks would consider even purchasing a ticket for an NFL game to be a wasteful expenditure of money.  For many people that would be an accurate assessment, either because they did not enjoy live professional football or because it did not fit into their budget.  For me, it is part of our entertainment budget and provides an opportunity for socializing with family members who also have tickets. 

But I still draw the line on wasting money at the stadium.    There is a difference between paying money to be entertained and wasting money while being entertained.  We can start with the usual suspect – beer.  I like beer but in all of the years we have been going to Titans games, I have never bought a beer at the stadium.  I simply refuse to spend $7 on beer in a plastic bottle.  People around me think differently.  The fan sitting in front of me last night had consumed so many $7 beers that by the third quarter, he was sitting in his seat, head in hands, staring downward.  His $50-$60 in consumed beer was causing him to miss a good part of the game – compounding the money waste.  Later he somewhat came back to life but I could tell by his demeanor that he was not going to remember much of what happened in the 4th quarter. 

I learned about a new wasteful money expenditure last night from one of my sons.  He had gone to the concession stand in the first half (for hot chocolate) and noticed that the line at the in-stadium ATM was at least 25 people deep.  His girl friend had used the machine for free because she was a customer of that bank.  (No, she did not buy beer.)  Everyone else paid a $5 ATM service fee!  So here we have fans during the first half of the game lining up to withdraw more cash and paying $5 to access their own money.  No doubt that a lot of those expensive cash withdrawals were used to purchase more $7 beers.  It gave me a sick feeling to even think about it.  Paying $5 to access your own money in this situation is similar to taking a payday loan.  The interest cost is astronomical. 

I can’t talk about wasting money at an NFL game without mentioning the players.  I am appalled by the attitudes of players about money, including rookies who have never had any money, and their willingness to waste it.  A recent case in point is the Titans rookie running back who was fined $10,000 this week for a post-touchdown celebration.  He deserved the fine.  But he is appealing the size of the fine because another player had only been fined $7500 for a similar episode.  According to his statements to the press, he expected to be fined before the celebration but only to the tune of $7500.  It seems that wasting $7500 of his own money is acceptable to him, but $10,000 is excessive.  I just don’t get it.  Even though players make millions, many stories could be written about former players struggling to pay their bills because of the money waste in their lives.  

I suppose the point of this story is that money waste happens at every income level.  But to me, the income level is mostly irrelevant.  A $10,000 fine to a multi-millionaire player has an impact similar to a blue collar fan buying a $7 beer or paying $5 to get $50 in cash from a stadium ATM.  My perspective is different.  Even if I made millions, I would cringe at the concept of giving up $5 to withdraw $50 at an ATM.  Money waste is money waste, and it is no less wasteful just because you are wealthy.  If money is that meaningless to you, then give it away to someone who really needs it. 

So am I off the mark on this little rant?  Any money wasters out there who want to defend their positions?

Feed Mr. ToughMoneyLove

FREE UPDATES: If you enjoyed this, please subscribe to receive the newest hard truth from Mr. ToughMoneyLove automatically by RSS feed (what is RSS?) or by spam-free Email.

  • Banner


7 Responses to “Want to See Money Waste? Attend an NFL Game.”
  1. $7 for a beer is par for the course (while talking sports) at a nice place in a big city. I buy $7 drinks all the time at nice places–bars or restaurants.

    I don’t spend money on expensive, dirty, loud stadiums watching millionaires move around balls. So, to each his own.

  2. I may have paid $7 for a microbrew draft beer at some point but it is definitely not par for the course and certainly not for a domestic light beer in a plastic bottle.

  3. If I’m going to shell out the money for a ticket to an NFL game (but for a REAL team, like the Bills), I’ll usually splurge a little and have an overpriced beer. It’s part of the experience, and I accept that I’ll pay through the nose for it. To me, beer and football go together perfectly, and I’m willing to spend extra to enjoy that. You acknowledge that the tickets are objectively wasteful, but you’re willing to spend the money because you see enough value in the experience. I view a beer at the game in the same way. But $5 at the ATM? No way.

  4. MGL – I don’t put the beer in precisely the same category as the tickets. If you want to see live NFL football, you have to buy a ticket. If you want to drink beer, there are lots of better and more affordable places to do it. I hear you about beer and football going together. If I had to watch the Bills, I probably would be drinking the beer as well!

  5. My favorite would have be the $7 bottled water at Turner Field, Atlanta. Of course, this was something like 5 years ago on a hot Saturday afternoon.

  6. Andrea says:

    I recently went to my first Broncos game, this after 13 years in residence in the area. My husband and I bought tickets from a co-worker with decent season ticket seats for something like $70 each (I can’t remember exactly). We took the bus, which was $8 and no parking hassle, compared to the lots we saw going for $25 with a mile long walk or more to the stadium. But I tell you what – we did spend money on food. Part of that was our fault – I assumed we couldn’t bring food in, which was incorrect. Part of it, though, was sheer gooberness. I haven’t had stadium nachos probably in 20 years, and dammit, I wanted some. We ended up getting popcorn and a couple of sodas as well. I’m not one to drink beer often and especially not in the middle of the day (I’d have to take a nap), so going the soda route was no biggie for me.

    Frugal? No. But I suppose if I go to a football game once every decade and a half, I can splurge on my crap food.

    Regarding drunks in the stands though – we had one behind us, a woman with a particular brain piercing voice who spent the whole game telling the players and refs they were idiots while downing one beer after another.

  7. Jonathan says:

    This is why sometimes it’s just better to watch a minor league sports team play. Still very good athletes and competition – less divas – and sometimes it is BYOB!

Speak Your Mind

Please leave a comment and tell us your version of the hard truth...

You must be logged in to post a comment.