Ky. Voices: Stop ad bombardment, let fans enjoy the game

Rendering of how new video screens in Rupp Arena might look.
Rendering of how new video screens in Rupp Arena might look.

The Herald-Leader reported that The Lexington Center's board of directors is considering replacing the large video monitors inside Rupp Arena with even larger video monitors. According to the sports marketing firm Learfield, video and other electronic technology play "a critical role in the overall in-arena fan entertainment and experience." Also being considered is an LED advertising display around the fascia of the upper arena, similar to the ribbon board recently installed in Commonwealth Stadium.

Oh, goody. Just what we all wanted: more advertising.

I have only attended one football game recently at Commonwealth, but I found the new LED ribbon board incredibly irritating and annoying. The lights are so bright, they hurt your eyes. The obnoxious ads constantly flash and zoom around the stadium. It's like being trapped inside a video game.

Someone wrote a letter to this paper last year claiming that the ribbon boards had caused a University of Kentucky football fan to have an epileptic seizure.

I actually felt nauseous, and it certainly didn't enhance my fan experience. In fact, it made me never want to go to the stadium again.

Decisions to add more corporate logos and advertising to sports stadiums show that the people in charge really are out of touch with the fans. We don't care that Kroger just donated another $100 to the UK Athletic Fund or that someone just made a "Whitaker bank shot." We just want all of these companies to please shut up and leave us to watch the ball game in peace.

When we drive down a major commercial thoroughfare in Lexington, our senses are assaulted with a steady stream of corporate logos and billboards and cheap, ugly outdoor advertising for check cashing, beer and the RJ Corman Railroad Company. When we turn on TV and radio, car dealers and the banks and the lottery shout inane messages at us.

All this hurts our quality of life. It cheapens, demeans and degrades us. And we have never given any of these companies our permission to do this. They just do it.

Enough already. There are signs that people are starting to get fed up with all of the advertising and corporate logos that intrude into our personal lives.

Over Christmas, my sister got a text from her friend in Australia showing the new cigarette packaging mandated by the Australian government. The front features color photos of nasty mouth tumors, skeletal hospital patients and sickening blackened, gangrenous feet. At the bottom of the package, in tiny letters, it says "Marlboro."

No corporate logos and no cartoon camels — just the truth about the damages that cigarettes cause to human health.

It will be interesting to see how this new packaging, which just went into effect in December, affects tobacco sales. If successful, maybe the Australian government will force other companies to show the health impacts of their products.

Imagine a bottle of Mountain Dew with a label showing rotting teeth, or walking into a McDonald's and staring at photos of cholesterol-clogged arteries and heart attack victims while you order your kid's Happy Meal.

Of course, it will be a long time before this ever happens here. A government effort to require similar cigarette packaging as Australia was overturned by a U.S. appeals court last year. Our nation is controlled by big corporations that sell weapons and junk food and other things that hurt people, and they use lobbyists and political campaign contributions to protect themselves.

But I'm an optimist, and I look forward to a day in America when those bright orange billboards that say "Gun Show" instead feature color photos of dead Connecticut school children.

Say, maybe Lexington Center can do this with their new ribbon boards.

At issue:

Dec. 21 Herald-Leader article, "New video boards considered for Rupp; Cost estimated at $4 million-plus to replace system for next season."

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