Friday, November 9, 2007

Upon the Altar of Professional Sports

Any one that knows me, knows I'm not a sports fan. You can be. That's fine. I have no problem with people choosing whatever entertainment makes them happy. What I do have a problem with, is society raising sports up onto a ridiculous pedestal.

And so, I am incredibly impressed with Citizens for More Important things. Unfortunately, they have been so successful in dealing with their problem that it is coming to my home. Mr. Van Dyk, we have chatted before, and I am sure we will again. For anyone not aware, the Seattle Sonics (soon to be the Oklahoma City Sonics) got tired of their arena. And who can blame them? I mean it was built way back in 1994 for the bargain price of $74 million. So they want a new one. No problem! Professional basketball is multi-billion dollar industry, surely they can afford to upgrade their facilities.

Yep, there's the problem. The new owner, Clay Bennett, threatened the city of Seattle that he would move the team unless the city built them a new arena. He thinks basketball is so very important that tax dollars should be spent to give these guys with million dollar salaries a nicer place to play. Apparently they don't generate enough revenue from ticket sales to pay for it themselves. My response, too bad. And the people of Seattle seem to feel the same way. Chris Van Dyk and the others at Citizens for More Important Things, got the measure to a vote, and the people said 'no.' Lawmakers in Seattle tried to scamper around the voters to fund it anyway, and still it was stopped. Kudos to you in Seattle! David Stern, the NBA commissioner, says they won't even get another team. Not only that, but he's been whining about it.
"To have the speaker of the house say well, they just spend too much money on salaries anyway, so we need it for other things," Stern said, casts aspersions on the whole league's operations. "We get the message. Hopefully, maybe cooler heads will prevail."
Yes, it does 'cast aspersions' on their operations. Professional sports are entertainment. These things are not necessary. I've yet to see Brad Pitt campaigning for tax dollars to build a new studio. He makes millions of dollars because people buy tickets to see him perform. Movie theaters are built by private corporations to generate income by entertaining people. I cannot see any reason why professional sports are any different.

Let's put it another way. If the vast majority of the planet was wiped out tomorrow, and you were left with the agonizing decision to save the life of a brilliant doctor or someone very skilled at throwing a ball through a hoop, who do you save? I can promise you that 10-point shot fired in the last 5 seconds of any game is not going to set the compound fracture in your femur.

Tax dollars should be spent in a way that benefits the community. Education, hospitals, public parks etc. A profit generating machine should be paying taxes, not being paid by them. People should be left to set their own priorities in what non-necessary, entertainment they chose to invest their hard earned money. This should not be left up to lawmakers.

And so, I applaud Seattle for not laying their children across the altar of professional sports. I just hope they send some torches my way while I gather my pitchfork.

1 comment:

Instinct said...

There's more important things than professional sports??

Dang it, another illusion of mine shattered.

I was there when they decided that they had to build a new stadium for the Mariner's. The only people that wanted it were in Seattle but they managed to get a state tax passed. So even if you lived in Spokane you got to pay for it.

I can't stand pro sports either