Interview with Making the Big Game’s Jeffery Fekete!

We have a special treat today at GiantsGab: An interview with Jeffrey Fekete, the author of Making the Big Game- Tales of Accidental Spectator! Jeffrey was nice enough to not only answer questions, but provide GiantsGab readers with an exclusive excerpt of the book! Making the Big Game is available at national chain bookstores and independent booksellers. You can visit his website here. The excerpt will be below the interview:

1. What was the inspiration for this book?

  This entire experience and inspiration happened so quickly. Ten days before kickoff, my wife casually announced at our dinner table in Sacramento, California that her boss, a local attorney Howard Hoffman, had been selected in the New York Giants season ticket holder lottery. He had “won” Super Bowl purchase rights to buy two tickets at $700 each.  Howard was recovering in early 2008 from knee replacement surgery and not really up to travel. The lottery letter came to him a couple of weeks before New York took down Green Bay in an epic NFC title game.  If the Giants had not advanced, the lottery letter would have been meaningless.

My wife Mindy and I almost jokingly kicked around the idea of going since Howard could legally transfer the purchase rights. The last minute financial and logistical obstacles really appeared overwhelming especially given the way the league controls distribution of lottery seats.  I had to enlist the help of an east coast relative and make a series of rapid and often stressful decisions to “make the big game”.  The three of us would become “accidental spectators” in Glendale, but only after considerable uncertainty and some good fortune.   
About five days into the process, I suspected I might have the foundation of a book. When the unexpected journey to the Arizona desert concluded with the unexpected result of a Giant upset, I knew I could not have scripted a better plot. I made a point of interviewing randomly selected neighbors from upper deck Section 430. They were all diehard Giants fans whose families had been season ticket holders for generations. I trace their paths to the game in the book as well and decided to dedicate the book “to the fans”.  Making The Big Game details a road well traveled but never really chronicled – an average spectator’s road to the Super Bowl. People who have not been to a Super Bowl have a distorted perception that the stands are filled with only celebrities, corporate executives, sponsors, and insiders.  Most are everyday people who make a big commitment to a once in a lifetime experience.     I get quite personal in the book in a way I hope people will relate to their own lives. I’ve included much about family, career, sport, and the things which instill and fuel our cultural attachment to big time spectacles like the Super Bowl.            
2. What was the feeling sitting in the upper deck at Super Bowl XLII when Plaxico Burress made the game winning catch?
 
I relay very strange flashback moments I had throughout the game winning drive. I grew up back east following mostly the Philadelphia Eagles (apologies for divisional rivalry), but my “hometown” team in adult life has been the San Francisco 49ers. The coin toss in Super Bowl XLII was dedicated to the late great 49er coach Bill Walsh.  It may sound contrived, but as I detail in the book, I felt dead certain that play was going to unfold at the moment it did.  I let everyone within earshot know it before Eli Manning even took the snap.  As I said, I could not have scripted a better plot. As far as that part of the book is concerned, it practically wrote itself.  It was quite weird and incomparable to anything I have experienced or probably will ever experience at a sporting event.        
3. What can you recommend for people trying to get tickets to the Super Bowl? 
 
Buyer beware. Online fraud and scams are rampant.  An entire chapter, “Trick Plays”, is devoted to this as well as the highly speculative world of brokered resale tickets.  So many people are looking to make a quick buck in the same way people were flipping houses and stocks in recent years until the bubble burst. The rise of the web only accelerates this. Sweetheart deals between sports leagues and exclusive resellers like Stubhub and Ticketmaster have anti-competitive elements in my view. Fans should be free to sell to other fans on the open market to keep the playing field level.  Parking lot scalpers are not the enemy, in fact they may be the last safeguard against potential abuses in the largely unregulated resale market. I am a free market advocate as long as the market remains reasonably transparent.  In my mind, nothing replaces the old fashioned face to face transaction.  We had to buy a third ticket in the resale market.  I bought one from a local broker in the host city the day before the game for about double face value.  If I had let emotion and panic get the best of me, I could have ended up easily paying three to four times face value for that one ticket or somewhere around three thousand dollars. One side effect I hope to create with the book is a better informed fan “consumer” particularly in challenging economic times.  The pricing cycle is fairly predictable. A lot of fans get caught up in the pregame frenzy and hype and overpay.      
4. How would you improve the in-stadium viewing experience of the Super Bowl?
 
There are so many technological innovations on the way and they will have to be incorporated into the stadium viewing experience to compete with advances in televised coverage.  Mobile devices like iPhones will play a role but will seem like child’s play eventually as the capabilities expand.  I have written a fictional postscript to Making The Big Game that is available for free download at my website ( www.MakingTheBigGame.com/ashortstorypostscript.html ). It speculates on how the game will look through the eyes of fans and media in the year 2039.  I originally wanted to title the chapter “Super Bowl LXXII” and include it in the book but I thought it would be a reach and potentially a headache since I project some real life people thirty years into the future.  Fiction writing is a different skill I don’t feel as confident with, but the basic ideas I hope are creatively conveyed in this short story.  
 
5. How would you improve, if at all, the Super Bowl ticket lottery process? 
 
It’s actually pretty well set up as best as I can tell. I think the league wants to keep the game accessible to its best customers – season ticket holders.  About two thirds of the seats are allocated for those randomly selected fans.  Anyone, season ticket holder or not, can write to the NFL and enter themselves in the fan ticket lottery for face value purchase rights.  What concerns me more is the very cozy relationship between the NFL and Ticketmaster made possible by a big sponsorship deal struck in late 2007.  I believe there is an effort being made by the league and team owners to monopolize the resale market and pressure local brokers.  The New England Patriots for one tried to legally force private ticket brokers in the Boston area to disclose their customer lists.  Many of the fans on those lists were Patriot season ticket holders that New England management wanted to channel exclusively to Stubhub.com for resale transactions based on the team’s sponsorship contract with that online reseller. As far as I’m concerned, teams sell tickets for what they believe the market will bear. What happens in the resale market is strictly the business of the buyer and the seller.          
6. What has the writing of this book taught you about American sports?
 
It reinforced what I already knew in part from my career experience in media, that American sports are very big businesses representing very powerful interests.  However, writing the book also reconnected me to noble aspects of our sporting traditions… There’s civic pride. Ther are teaching moments created by examples good and bad both on the field and in the stands. There are people bonding around common shared experiences. These are all valuable byproducts of many sports and entertainment events in our country and I suspect around the world.   
You can download the exclusive excerpt below!
Thanks again to Jeffrey Fekete for the interview and for the exclusive excerpt! Remember to visit his website here, and to buy the book!


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