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RUSHKOFF: Right, and if it's a Nike ballpark, and you go there, and make that one concession to corporate America, then maybe you don't have to have marketing blasting at you through the loudspeakers during every break. "This touchdown brought to you by bla bla airlines." They actually pay for the touchdowns, you know. It would make for a better game. And it would separate the emotional vulnerability we experience at a sporting event from the coercive techniques of marketers.

A sports spectacle is a great engine for generating the sort of unbridled optimism and enthusiasm we were talking about earlier. The Roman games were so good at generating support for politicians that it was illegal to have a gladiatorial contest within three months of an election. They were aware of just how much that dictator's thumb, up or down, could affect the entire crowd ­ and its relationship to the leader. Hitler used the spectacle, Farrakhan uses the spectacle. Promise Keepers use the spectacle; they craft their events around the tested emotional responses of their target market.

The role of any coercive technique is to suspend someone's ability to think rationally, so that they can be made to act on their emotions. It's a simple formula used by Hitler, Farrakhan, and Promise Keepers alike, as well as many multi-level marketers at their rallies. Exploit the anonymity of the mob so that everyone expresses long-repressed emotions. Label the oppressive force as a common enemy, stoke the crowd's rage and, once it's reached a peak, entreat the assembled mass to take an oath. They all must promise to sustain this righteous rage after they've left the rally. It's locked in, like a post-hypnotic suggestion.

Sports spectacles today are rallies designed to promote our allegiance to corporations. I went to a Jets game where Outback steak houses handed out small signs to every fan. When the Jets sacked the opposing team's quarterback we were supposed to hold up the sign, which read "Sack Attack." On the back of the sign, however, facing each fan it read "Outback Steak House." They took the most aggressive, most carnivorous moment of a football game, where we sack the opposing quarterback, and used it as an opportunity to program us with Outback Steak House, So now we're going to associate the steakhouse with "Ah, we killed them!"