SPORTSPROP Businessball and Heroes Great and Small
What once was an intimate sportsprop was transformed in the early 1990s into a psychologically distant businessballprop in which sports became less a mecca for heroes than a meeting place for negotiators. The sports cathedrals gave way to luxury hotel suites where wealthy players, agents, and owners convened to disagree.
Advertising, fashion, marketing, and music joined in a synergy with sports as a multifaceted business in which the fan was more object than subject. Fans clad themselves in Nike or Reebok shoes, hats, sports fashions, and T-shirts; drank the right beer; were seen with the right sex symbols; and drove the right cars. These symbols pervaded television, promoted pay TV; filled magazines, newspapers, and CD-ROMS; and were being consumed by the interactive generation. Businessballprop promoted a consciousness of totalprop.
In Portland, Oregon, Seattle, Washington, and in other cities, shopping at Nike is a total experience. Lifelike sports figures loom overhead, films roll, and music envelops the customer. Beyond shopping, the broader purpose is to bring about brand and image conversion. Only the windows and walls limit the boundaries of the presentation: It is total business sportsprop.1
Chicago's Nike Town houses a high-tech sports museum, fitness theme park, basketball court, and video theater. Visitors are asked to carry away im-