The madness of professional sport

I like sports.
I can be obsessive in my “watching” and if I had to categorize from favourite down, I’m not sure I could.
Instead, I shall just put all my favourites in an alphabetical hat: baseball, curling, golf, show jumping, tennis. That’s a good start anyway.
I used to watch hockey, not religiously but certainly during Stanley Cup playoffs. Not any more.
The game has become one of thugs. That’s another debate and one I am not likely to win.
I do have a bit of hero worship going on when it comes to the likes of Roger Federer or Mike Weir or Jose Bautista or Glenn Howard.
I attended the retirement of Big Ben when he was Canada’s amazing horse and I felt uncontrollable emotional awe and sadness at his passing.
They are/were all talented guys and one can’t help admire such skill.
Most of us don’t have that kind of determined focus, but more than that they seem to me men with honour.
Having said that, I have grave concern about where professional sports has landed or has been for more years than is even reasonable. And this is where my “egalitarian” heart becomes outraged, vocal and downright angry.
I was watching the US Open the weekend before last. David first commented on the advertisers during the breaks from the televised action from San Francisco’s Olympic Club golf course.
All ads were the big money managers, corporate power pretending to have an interest in the finances of you and I, the little guy.
“I don’t think they speak for me,” was David’s thoughtful comment. And I am of the same mind.
We’ve always known that show jumping and horse racing was/is the sport of kings. There are very few rags to riches stories going on in that arena.
Big Ben jumped to 1.5 million in prize money. Roger has earned 52 million in tennis prize money alone.
Mike Weir has banked 29 million in prize money and Glenn Howard, the king of the common man, has earned 100,000+.
They all, except Glenn, are millionaires, drawing exorbitant wages for playing a game.
The problem for me is that you and I, the every day folk are the reason the advertising dollars are there and thus the high wages.
Yet the average family cannot afford to take their children to watch professional sports. Blue Jays tickets are affordable for the nose-bleed section where you hear the ball making contact with the bat about three seconds after the fact, but to be part of the action—$210.
And that’s cheap compared to hockey and basketball.
Do you ever notice the empty prime seats during a game? Corporate power.
Corporations own those seats and the fat cats use the seats for “business.” Everything about that feels wrong.
It is not difficult to admire and respect the talent of athletes while we watch from the sofa.
A grand slam definitely gets the heart pumping, but is such admiration worth millions?
Do we stand up to cheer for “our team” while wearing jerseys that cost us a week’s wage while children show up at school with empty tummies and shoes that don’t fit and try to learn in classrooms that just can’t operate properly with that many students, or while our young people with diploma/degree in hand cannot find work, while our homeless suffer?
The whole situation makes me want to scream and pull my hair, neither of which are any part of the solution.
I have decided I will support amateur sport.
I will go to the local baseball fields to get my fill of home-runs and double plays. I will go golfing instead of watching it.
I will get off the couch and dust off the crumbs. And I will continue to grumble and complain and speak up for the disenfranchised.
And on a rainy day, instead of tuning in to see what Roger is up to I’ll hang the pictures that I took down several months ago to paint the walls behind.
wendistewart@live.ca

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