Ralph Nader has a bad dream and it was breaking him up on the telephone.
He looked into the future and saw the "Live" sports fan becoming extinct as a species.
The consumer advocate who took his lumps from the media when he branched out with an organization called FANS has no intention of reviving it to threaten a boycott of baseball games.
"I don't thind a fans' strike would ever work," he says. "Sports have been overwhelmed by mercantile values. The conglomerates don't care who is in the audience. I see them having mannequin fans in the stadiums, with recorded cheering for television. There will be complete insulation of sports corporations from their customers.
"They do not care about the fans because they get so much money from television that some sports clear all expenses from that revenue.
"It will all go electronic. 'Take Me Out To The Ball Game' will become a nostalgic thing of the past. It will become 'Take Me Over the Electronic Wave.'
"Some company will have two-way TV, with electronic autographs at $2 apiece, for a superstar, and you will be billed later. An autograph of Reggie Jackson will drop on your living room floor, from a facsimile process attached to your set.
All you will do is push a button. They will sell hot dogs on TV. You will push a button and a guy going up and down residential streets will be told by the television system which house to deliver to.
"The only people in the stadiums will be the players.
People in a control tower will be pushing buttons -- a 'cheer' button when a player does something good; a 'boo' if he does something poorly, all for the effect on the TV audience.
"The conglomerates have a take-it-or-leave-it attitude. They say, 'We're making our money from TV.' The more sports get on TV, the more fans come to the stadiums, because it's a form of advertising. There is a limited number of seats, so you have far more demand than supply. Football stadiums fill up all the time."
Nader points out, "Once there was such an imbalance between the earnings of management and labor because the players were treated like serfs. Out of the good that came from freeing the players came a lot of wrangling that now irritates the fans.
"Conglomerates demand tax subsidies with the threat to move teams. There is a dilution because of so many teams, as in hockey. Fans used to love sports because they reflected other than money values.
"The monmonetary aspects which give delight to the fans will be left out in left field. . . all the intangibles like love, joy, happiness. If you asked an old Brooklyn Dodgers fan what he liked about sports, he'd have said, 'Civic pride, team spirit; the constancy of player identification.'
"I was a Yankee fan, but today it is hard to know them; they get traded around like bubble gum cards. I don't know much about the Oakland Raiders' threat to move to Los Angeles, but the Rams' move to Anaheim was for real estate. That's what took the Dodgers to Los Angeles."
Nader said of the Maryland legislature voting $22 million of taxpayers' money to refurbish Baltimore stadium to keep the Colts in town, "That's a kind of corporate extortion which says to the community, 'You want a big league team you have to pay us for the privilege of making a profit on you. 'It's a way to make the fans pay twice -- through exorbitantly priced tickets and taxes.
"The tickets are exorbitant because there is no competition. Baseball has relatively cheap seats among all sports. Yet, though Yankee Stadium can seat nearly 60,000 (54,028) the games are televised over a wide area and make so much money from that the Yankees canstill say to the fans, 'take it or leave it'."