Tag Archives | Sports

Imagining an America Without Sports

Sam Riches writes at The Pacific Standard:

What if we eliminated the institution of sport—from the high school level to the pros? Ten academics from around the country weigh in.

The National Football League, despite a reported dip in fan support this year, remains the most popular and profitable sports league in America. Though it generates in the range of $10 billion annually, it’s heavily subsidized by its fans, American taxpayers, who provide 70 percent of the capital costs in stadium construction. NFL headquarters, meanwhile, enjoys tax-free status as a non-profit organization and the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, earned more than $40 million last year.

The athletes that make the league a viable business—the majority of them having worked their way up to the professional level after years of labor exploitation in the NCAA—have an average career length of just over three years, according to the NFL Players Association.

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10 of The Most Costly Sports Riots in History

vancouver

Via The Richest:

Former Liverpool FC manager Bill Shankly once famously said that football is more important than life or death. This sentiment, despite its extreme nature, is not an entirely alien concept to officials, fans and players of practically the entire range of competitive sports across the world.

Sports, in all its various forms and flavours, tap into our ancient tribal instincts, and provide an outlet for our deep seated primal urges. It comes as no surprise then, when these urges manifest themselves during emotionally charged moments in the sporting arena, from cries of rapture to screams of anger. However, some of these urges occasionally appear in much darker tones, often leading to physical altercations.

Evidence of this can be seen from as far back as 2,700 years ago (753 BC) in the chariot races of the Roman Empire. Riders, crews and horses were all fair game for the armed participants and spiked chariot wheels.

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Anti-“Redskins” PSA to Air

No word yet on whether the NFL will consider airing the “Proud to Be” spot, (which had been produced and put online in time for Super Bowl XLVIII), but it will play during the NBA finals, as it was deemed a “significant investment” by sponsors from the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation. The group would not reveal how much it spent for the coveted advertising slot, only that it was necessary to further an important discussion of racism.

via AlterNet:

During this weekend’s highly anticipated NBA final, an ad that the NFL does not want to air will hit the airwaves. It is a powerful and moving plea to change the offensive Washington Redskins name and mascot produced by a group called the National Congress of American Indians.

The ad runs through a list of words that Native Americans actually call themselves: proud, forgotten, Navajo, mother, survivor, Inuit, patriot, underserved . . . and many more.

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Nearly 1,000 Workers Have Already Died Building Qatar’s World Cup Infastructure

qatarOur global sporting championship has a higher blood toll than the Hunger Games. Via the Smithsonian:

In 2022, Qatar will host the World Cup. Since 2012, about 900 workers have died while working on infrastructure in Qatar, in a building boom anticipating the World Cup.

A report by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) says that if conditions don’t get any better, by the time the World Cup kicks off, at least 4,000 migrant workers will have died on the job. For comparison, only six workers have died during construction for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil that starts this summer.

Workers described forced labour in 50C (122F) heat, employers who retain salaries for several months and passports making it impossible for them to leave and being denied free drinking water. The investigation found sickness is endemic among workers living in overcrowded and insanitary conditions and hunger has been reported.

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Corporate Sponsorship Turns Olympics Into ‘Hunger Games’ Scenario

1924WOlympicPosterIn The Nation, 2006 Winter Games luge competitor Samantha Retrosi compares the Olympics to “The Hunger Games” while discussing her own experience of being made into a voicebox for Vorizon. According to Retrosi, when corporate sponsorship falls through, many U.S. Olympic athletes are left with one back-up plan: join the Army:

The socialization of my allegiance to Verizon began the moment I was selected—as an 11-year-old—for the US development team. The culture within the US Luge Association viewed brand loyalty as integral to the survival of the organization. All of my clothing was plastered with the Verizon logo. I was not allowed near any camera without giving a visual and verbal statement of thanks to Verizon for making all of my dreams come true. I went through intensive media training each year to reinforce this allegiance—to learn how to be a better spokesperson for Verizon. During my Olympic year, I signed away my rights to use media time for just about anything other than gratitude to sponsors.

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The Anarchist-Marxist Sport Of The Future: Three-Sided Football

threeAmerican football it will be played in the Super Bowl is clearly a metaphor for the conquering of territory by force, a reenactment of the nation's creation. Is it time for a national sport with different theoretical meaning? Wikipedia on three-sided football:
Played on a hexagonal pitch with three teams instead of two, it was devised by the Danish Situationist Asger Jorn to explain his notion of triolectics, his refinement on the Marxian concept of dialectics, as well as to disrupt one's everyday idea of football. The game deconstructs the confrontational and bi-polar nature of conventional football as an analogy of class struggle in which the referee stands as a signifier of the state and media apparatus, posturing as a neutral arbitrator in the political process of ongoing class struggle. The first known game was organized by the London Psychogeographical Association as part of the Glasgow Anarchist Summer School.  
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Tomorrow’s NFL Championship: The Marijuana Bowl

weed bowlWith their respective teams going head to head, is this year’s Super Bowl the closest thing to a national holiday commemorating the pioneering legalization of weed in Colorado and Washington? Refinery 29 notes:

The Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks will face off in Super Bowl XLVIII on February 2. The most offbeat narrative to emerge so far is the strange coincidence that the home states of both teams, Washington and Colorado, are the only ones with legalized recreational marijuana in the country. Ladies and gentlemen, we present to you the Marijuana Bowl. Or the Pot Bowl. Or the Weed Bowl.

The NFL forbids its players to use the drug, even for medical reasons. Marijuana advocacy groups point out that the drug can be helpful to players suffering from serious injuries, especially concussions. Others have pointed out that the NFL’s many tie-ins with the alcohol industry comes off as hypocritical.

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The Supernatural and Sports

Tim Tebow TebowingI suspect that like me, most of you won’t have associated the supernatural with sports, but according to a report in the Washington Times more than half of sports fans believe there are supernatural aspects at play in sporting events:

So do you say a little prayer during a pivotal play or wear lucky socks during a big game? You are not alone.

“Just ahead of the 2014 Super Bowl, 50 percent of sports fans see some aspect of the supernatural at play in sports, meaning they either pray to God to help their team, have thought their team was cursed at some point in time, or believe that God plays a role in determining the outcome of sporting events,” reports a new survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, a nonpartisan, non-profit group based in the nation’s capital.

A fervent 26 percent of the respondents say they have prayed that “for God to help their team”, while an equal number have entertained the notion that their team was “cursed.”

The gridiron tends to bring out this behavior.

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NFL Player Quits Midseason, Citing Noam Chomsky

moffitt

Not that I’m expecting football fans across the country to wake up and question whether they themselves are “pawns in a machine”,  but the abrupt retirement of John Moffitt, as reported by the New York Times, is commendable and intriguing:

“I don’t want to risk health for money,” said Moffitt, 27, who walked away from about $1 million in salary, various benefits for retirees who play at least three seasons and quite possibly a trip to the Super Bowl with the 9-1 Broncos. “I’m happy, and I don’t need the N.F.L.”

In the off-season, Moffitt started reading the writings of the Dalai Lama and Noam Chomsky, among others. They helped him conclude that he was a pawn in a machine that controlled his life.

Moffitt insisted that he did not care about the lost income, and he was shocked that people thought he was nuts for walking away from what they think is a glamorous lifestyle.

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Nine Out Of Ten Men Say They Fake An Interest In Sports

soccerSo does anyone actually like professional sports? Fascinating ritual sociology from the UK’s Daily Mail:

Nine out of ten men lie about liking sports to impress friends or to get ahead at work, it was revealed today. Football was the game that men most faked a love of, with two out of three admitting they gushed to mates about the national sport to avoid being unpopular, a survey of 500 Britons found.

Football was the most fibbed about, with 61 per cent hiding their dislike. The national game was followed by F1, cricket, gold and rugby. One in three admitted to lying because they thought it would aid their career.

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