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by Ken Pellman (archives)
October 25, 2002
Ken tells you why he kind of likes Disney owning the Angels and Ducks.

I'm not a big sports fan. At least, I haven't been in recent years.

When I was growing up, I was much more interested. I watched sports such as (American) football, baseball, and basketball like the next kid. I especially watched local teams - the Dodgers and the Lakers, who were winning a lot (this was the 1980s) and the Los Angeles Raiders. I had friends who were really into watching sports. I even read up on sports history and techniques.

(Stay with me…this is going somewhere.)

Sports have always been more fun to participate in. I played little league baseball and AYSO soccer, but my real passion became competitive swimming with associations such as U.S.S. and the S.C.A.A.). I went from being too timid to leave the steps of a pool in a life jacket (my pre-school reasoning was that something that adds weight to you couldn't possibly make you float) to being dubbed "The Walrus", specializing in distance swims, enjoyed frolicking in the pool, doing flips and splash dives off of the high board, and body surfing at the local beaches.

Competitive swimming, of course, isn't all that interesting to watch and is understandably absent from most television except during the Summer Olympics.

(Yes, I am going somewhere with this…)

If you're not participating in sports, the next best thing is being there live. The British family down the street would haul us neighborhood kids off to the Los Angeles Aztecs soccer games (the team is long since defunct) at the Rose Bowl and the L.A. Coliseum. I saw the L.A. Lazers play soccer indoors and show off lasers. I sat in a jam-packed packed Rose Bowl to watch Ohio State defeat Arizona State in very close game (1997 Rose Bowl game, I believe) - one of the best I've ever seen.

I've fried in the sun at Dodger Stadium many times.

I've never been to an Angels game, though. I lived right up the 57 Orange Freeway from "the Big A" - Anaheim Stadium. I witnessed the ongoing transformation into Edison Field-"The Bid Ed", (which sounds like a burrito at a fast food joint), usually as I would negotiate the curving onramp from Katella Avenue eastbound onto the 57 northbound after a long day at Disneyland Park.

I went to the first public scrimmage of the Mighty Ducks, at The Pond, but haven't been back since for hockey. I did return for a particularly boisterous Disney shareholders meeting. Whoo-boy, what a hootenanny that was! No, most of the hockey I've watched in recent years has been the Long Beach Ice Dogs, who had been in the IHL when I first saw them before downshifting into the WSHL.

So, what does this all have to do with Disney? you ask. You just said you're not much of a sports fan, so why ramble on about this?

Good question. I am a Disney fan and someone who follows the entertainment business and analyzes communal experiences. I tend to enjoy watching sports in person - going to a sporting event is a communal experience. It is entertainment that you experience by leaving your home and going somewhere in particular. People think of Disney as a film and theme park company, and the younger folks think of it also as The Disney Channel and Radio Disney.

However, Disney is a media and entertainment company. It isn't just theme parks that Disney does - it is the broader category of location-based entertainment. Professional sports provide television viewers with entertainment in their homes, but for the fans attending the game or match, it is location-based entertainment, a communal experience. Edison Field is an outdoor entertainment venue. Stadiums and arenas are being designed to have more of a sense of place instead of just being a utilitarian space.

True, Disney has been driven by storytellers who usually have total or near-total control over a story, following the dramatic structure, and sports is different. The most exciting part of a match, the best performances in a game, the dramatic and defining moments, may come early in the event or even season instead of late. No matter how good a play-by-play announcer and color commentator are, there may not be a payoff at the end (especially for the losing team!).

Never the less, sports is entertainment for the spectator. Stadiums and arenas are places to go to cheer, gasp, groan, applaud, and celebrate with your fellow spectator. This is why I don't see Disney's Anaheim Sports, Inc. to be a departure from their core business. It is an extension.

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