Up: Literally anyone with the power to end this Subway “Avocadohh!” commercial campaign: The Subway restaurant chain exists as something of a paradox for me: on one hand, like Liz Lemon, all I really want is to sit peacefully and eat a sandwich, and Subway has some excellent sandwich dining options; on the other, Subway commercials so offend me with their mind-boggling, inane stupidity, that I would rather bash my head through some drywall than hear one more second of them. This is the same company that once featured an ad campaign in which people on the street attempted to sing the song from the last Subway ad campaign:
Take it easy, Subway — I don’t need you to be a paragon of postmodern meta-critical self-referencing; you can just make a sandwich and call it a day.
This is also the same company that prominently features Jared Fogel — the guy who lost weight by sticking to a meticulous diet of low-fat Subway sandwiches and, I’m guessing, cigarettes and crack cocaine — in commercials with Michael Phelps and New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck, as if either multi-millionaire athlete cared. I somehow looked past these commercials and managed to continue eating at Subway restaurants, but that was prior to the company’s newest shit-fest of an ad campaign, in which they make clear in no uncertain terms that not only do avocado exist, but you can put them on your sandwich at Subway:
This was the only video I could find of the advertisements, but this print version should give you a clue as to the degree to which the company goes to explain what an avocado is to its potential customers: “a super-creamy superfood” that “really ups the flavor ante,” you can have it with breakfast, lunch, or dinner! In one radio ad, the announcer says everything is better with avocado — even ice cream! In one television spot, they have different spokespeople actually sound out the syllables in the word — A-VO-CA-DO. I’m not shitting you.
What’s that? Avo-what?? What’s an avocado, Subway?? I’ve never heard of this food that’s literally available in every grocery store and restuarant on God’s green earth? What do I do with it? Do I eat it? Do I throw it against a wall? Should I wipe my ass with it? And the most important question: Does it bring the flavor ante UP or DOWN?
A lot of people like avocado — I understand that; but it’s not the stem of a rare plant only found deep in the jungles of Borneo, it’s an avocado. We all know what they are, you don’t need to sound it out for us, Subway.
Down: The NBA lockout: Well, it’s official now: As of Thursday, NBA Commissioner David Stern and the NBA owners have failed to reach a new collective bargaining agreement with the players, creating a work stoppage for the league — or a “lockout,” as players will literally be locked out of team facilities until a new contract is reached. This is the second major lockout this year, as the NFL and its players have been in a work stoppage for more than 100 days. No football, no basketball, and no hockey until next season, which is still months away: It is literally my second-worst nightmare (my first is going on the show House Hunters and being asked to choose between homes that don’t have granite countertops and / or a granite toilet.)
The only reasons that I have been able to keep my cool about the whole situation is that the NFL lockout hasn’t effected anything of consequence — no training camps, preseason or regular season games have been missed — and there is real optimism that a deal will be done long before the labor unrest threatens to disrupt the regular season.
But that’s not the case with the NBA. Trust me. It is an extremely rare situation to have two major professional sports leagues dealing with a work stoppage at the same time, and so it is only natural for fans to look to the NFL proceedings — more than three months old now — in setting their expectations for the NBA negotiations. But there are some significant differences between the two situations, and the two will likely be resolved along very different timelines. Allow me to explain:
To start, the NFL is the most profitable professional sports league in America. Currently, the league pulls in gross revenues of about $9 billion per year, and even conservative guesses suggest that the league could reach annual revenues of over $20 billion in another decade. Right, the owners of the leagues various teams take $1 billion right off the top to cover some of their expenses, and the other $8 billion is split between the teams and their players. At the heart of the NFL negotiations are questions of how to split the money; the owners want to take an additional $1 billion off the top, the players don’t want to reduce the percentage of the overall pie they already get, and so on. There are real issues at hand here, but the reality is that we are still talking about potential revenues at or above $10 billion next year. Even the smaller market teams are making a profit. That’s what the NFL is debating: How to split profits.
But not the NBA. In the NBA, teams have been losing money to various degrees for the last decade or so. Even the players acknowledge that probably 3/4ths of the teams in the league are losing money (we don’t know the exact numbers because the owners of the teams — private business ventures, despite their public prominence — are not going to open their books to public scrutiny.) The reason for net losses in the NBA are myriad. The biggest reason is likely revenue sharing, or a lack thereof. What I mean by that, is that in the NFL, all teams, whether from big markets like New York or Chicago or Dallas, or small markets like Jacksonville or San Diego, share a certain percentage of the league’s collective revenue (from television contracts, jersey sales, etc). This means that there is a certain amount of parity in the NFL, giving smaller market teams a better chance to compete with their more marketable counterpoints. The NBA shares some revenue, but not nearly the same percentage as the NFL. Moreover, NBA players make much more than NFL players, despite playing a less popular sport. NBA player contracts are typically longer than NFL contracts, and, if we’re being honest, a large amount of new owners have bought into the NBA in this past decade, many of whom mortgaged a lot to purchase small market teams and they are now shocked — SHOCKED, they’ll tell you! — that they cannot recoup their investments and turn a profit. The owners want the players to take less money from the overall revenues, to phase in a harder cap or limit on player contracts, and to make it easier to get out of the bad contracts they may offer in the future, among other things.
The point of all these numbers and contract sticking points? The NFL and the NBA are both in labor disputes, but the two are worlds apart. The NFL will be back, likely sooner than later. The NBA owners and players could magically come to an agreement on a deal, but there is a very real possibility that some games will be lost next season before any compromise is reached. The image of LeBron James walking dejectedly off the court in Miami is going to have to tide basketball fans over for a while.
SO, a few suggestions on what to do during these lockouts:
1. Start your own professional sports league! I have an idea for a sport in which baboons fight one another with small bombs. It’s called Babooms!
2. Start betting on other sports. You know your neighbor is hosting cock fights in his basement every Saturday night, maybe it’s time to wander down with a handful of $20 bills.
3. Recreate the emotional ups and downs of being a sports fan by starting a drug habit and quitting your job!
4. Find other public activities at which you can drink yourself into a stupor and swear loudly at strangers. Graduation parties and christenings will work.
5. Learn to play a musical instrument. When sports are back on TV, you can throw the instrument against the wall in a fit of rage when your team loses.