The idea of playing a basketball game inside a football stadium is a self-evidently ungood one that removes from the game experience basketball’s most distinct advantage over other sports (intimacy) and renders every seat in the house a bad one.
Everyone agrees with this, and yet people keep buying tickets to college basketball games staged in strange, lifeless football stadiums because those tickets allow them to say they were there during the Big Thing. So they keep getting staged there.
Now they’re doing the same thing with football, which is to say they’re playing football games in venues too large for the sport, selling it as “a spectacle,” and counting on sports tourists to buy up all the seats, which of course they will. Because it’s a spectacle.
Yes, on Saturday, Bristol Motor Speedway will play host to a college football game between Virginia Tech and Tennessee. More than 150,000 people are expected to show up, having thrown away their hard-earned scratch for the opportunity to say they were there the night 150,000 people showed up to a football game none of them could see.
This has been tried before. The Redskins and Eagles played an exhibition game at Bristol in 1961, but only 10,000 people showed up, revealing Americans did not lose their judgment wholesale until sometime after that.