Thursday, October 10, 2013

What's wrong with sports today

It's become fashionable over the last few decades to see a larger meaning to sports - to see baseball as representing a microcosm of life, for example.

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.  

1 comment:

  1. When thinking of it, it's happening in college towns. One Top 100 market (my market, in fact) lost its last minor-league sports team in 2008. Syracuse, while losing the NBA in the 1960's after the Warriors moved to the Bay Area, still has two minor league teams.

    And the "hate the suburbs" battle is ironic considering that the Presidential Election was literally a cities vs suburbs and rural areas battle, and the 49ers are leaving San Francisco for the suburbs in Santa Clara. New York hasn't had the NFL in 30 years after the two teams left across the Hudson.

    In Charlotte, the AAA Knights are moving from the suburbs (York County, SC) to downtown NC near Bank of America Stadium for this "downtown" mentality. Cleveland did that 20 years ago in the NBA and today that area in Richfield is just reclaimed forest land. Charlotte did that in the NBA in 2005 and the footprint of what was Coliseum II (Coliseum I, built in 1956, still stands on US 74) where I would attend a CBS-televised New Year's Eve gospel sing in the late 1990's, is just trees and parks in an industrial park near Douglas International that hasn't been rebuilt. The I-77 interchange built for the area is virtually worthless now.

    And the "chasm" between classes showed when one person denounced a candidate for a local State House seat using Marxist class warfare to trash that candidate in order to promote government as deity where they everything earned comes from them (which is not what the Founding Fathers wanted).


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