Twenty-four million dollars. According to Spotrac, an independent website dedicated to reporting on sports salaries and events, the average salary of an NFL quarterback is $24 million.
These men are the most paid players of “America’s game,” but a 2012 documentary titled America’s Parking Lot explores possibly the most dedicated sector of football culture: tailgaters.
In 2009, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones announced that he would be moving the team from their 38-year home at Texas Stadium to a brand new, state-of-the-art facility 25 minutes away in Arlington, Texas.
The move did not come without frustration from the fans. Enter Cy Ditmore and Stan “Tiger” Shults. These two longtime Cowboys season ticket holders aptly became known as the leaders of the “Gate 6 Crew.” Every Sunday, these two would spend anywhere from $700-1,000 on food, booze and anything else they needed to make their tailgates the only ones worth going to.
These men did not know each other before tailgating and did not really know one another outside of tailgating, but the power of the hometown pride brought these men together, and not even a move and price hikes could tear them apart.
With the switch from Texas Stadium to AT&T Stadium came a price hike like nothing the NFL had seen before. The implementation of personal seat licensing charges hiked season ticket prices up by as much as $150,000 per seat. Forcing a season ticket holder to purchase a PSL is a way of making up for lost revenue and, just simply, a way to make money.
When the Cowboys moved, every season ticket holder had to cough up the money to buy a PSL for every seat they wanted to purchase for the upcoming season. Many of the “Gate 6 Crew” struggled with making the decision to buy a seat, and many made the choice to not cough up the cash.
America’s Parking Lot doesn't just explore the culture of tailgating; it explores the elitist ways of the NFL. Football began as a sport for the common man but has shifted into something else. A ticket to the first Super Bowl cost just “6 dollars and topped off at 12,” according to CBS News. Taking in inflation, the most expensive Super Bowl I ticket would be equal to $86.00 in today's currency.
The cheapest ticket to the most recent Super Bowl game ran at around $4,145.00, according to a CNNMoney report.
This documentary explores how slowly a game meant for the common man has evolved into nothing more than endless corporate greed and screwing the little guy.
When I chose this documentary, I expected to laugh at the ridiculous antics of middle-aged men and their love affair with football, but as I watched, I became attached. I felt for the men who every Sunday spend inordinate amounts of money, name their children after players, even plan their mothers’ funerals around a home game for their beloved team. I hurt as season ticket holders of 30 years had to forfeit their seats because the ownership of “America’s Team” cared more about luxury boxes and corporate sponsors than the fans they play for.
You may not realize how important a game can be to some people, you may not care, but if you watch America’s Parking Lot, you will learn. You will see how one team or one place can hold such a big place in someone's life, someone's being and someone’s heart.