The NHL’s annual Winter Classic was a purple cow, but now it is just something on the schedule.
If you aren’t familiar with the idea of a purple cow, it refers to Seth Godin’s hypothesis that the way you stand out is to be different, unusual, incredible.
Like a purple cow.
But what happened to the NHL and the Winter Classic is a classic example of what happens when you have too much of a good thing.
Think about the old trope about having a bunch of Coca-Colas. The first one is great, but each additional one is less awesome.
That’s kind of what happened to the Winter Classic.
When the Winter Classic was the only game of its kind, it was gold.
Fans couldn’t get enough of it.
Outdoor professional hockey games in classic venues.
Sign up almost everyone.
But over time the popularity of the event started to become too much for the NHL to resist. Then not just the Winter Classic, but also The Stadium Series, and The Heritage Classic came into play.
Each one of them eroding the scarcity and the specialness of the outdoor NHL experience.
The thing about this is, it isn’t an NHL problem alone.
Scarcity is something that drives our economy but which is tougher to come by.
The thing that is scarce is what is valuable: attention, Game 7s, or certain beers.
Quality almost is an afterthought if The Who is only playing one concert at the MGM National Harbor casino and you want to go. Its one time only! And, you’ll get to see The Who with 3,000 of your closest friends.
But the problem with scarcity is that eventually the demand side wins out.
Why only do one game outdoors when there are 30 teams?
Why only have one show in NYC at MSG when the demand makes it cool to have 10 shows?
Why not produce more of a special beer, when what made it special is that you could only get it in one place at one time?
You see, the NHL is just a stand in here: a stand in for all of us. Because just as soon as we get something special and scarce, a purple cow. We start to immediately ask ourselves how we can make it a mass product.
While mass products are good in some cases. In too many cases, too much of a good thing is just too much.