There is, however, another - less romantic - way in which sports mirrors life today. ESPN's Tim Keown, writing about the prospect of the city of Oakland losing all three of its professional sports teams, on what sports has become:
Take a look at those future ruins. They rose from the ground before crowds inside stadiums mimicked the stratification of the society outside, with the moneyed elite walling themselves off from the commoners in gloriously appointed privacy -- a logical extension of the gated, country-club community.
Are we destined to forever live in a sports world where amenities go from desirous to compulsory? Are fans and taxpayers just resigned to either building new shrines or losing their teams?
In the relentlessly monarchical world of professional sports, someone has to be able to forsake a digit or two in the bank account to create a legacy more meaningful than a trust fund that'll cover a lifetime of BMWs and Botox treatments for the grandchildren of his grandchildren. Someone has to consider the void left behind. And someone has to make a clear-eyed assessment of whether 4–12 will look any better through the window of a luxury suite with a view of LA Live than it does through the bottom of a smuggled-in fifth of Albertsons scotch in the depths of the Black Hole.
Do read the whole article. Now, I've never been one to jump on the "trash the suburbs" bandwagon, though I myself prefer living in an urban area. And there's nothing inherently wrong with living in a gated community, when the purpose is to provide a minimum amount of security to, say, an apartment complex without a security entrance. But when the attempt is to create a permanent chasm between classes - in fact, to create a cultural subset where those of a certain lifestyle never even have to come into contact with "everyone else," then there's a problem. Sports has often been a means of building community, of something that crosses political, racial, or religious lines. It was never meant to become a ghetto for the rich. ◙