Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Strike three

NEW YORK - Washington's new baseball team shut down business and promotional operations indefinitely Wednesday as its move to the nation's capital teetered on the brink of collapse.

The decision by major league baseball followed the District of Columbia Council's decision Tuesday night to require private financing for at least half the cost of building a new stadium. The September agreement to move the Montreal Expos (news) to Washington called for a ballpark fully financed by government money.

I suppose Malkin can go do her little happy-dance, now. Honestly, I really don't have a dog in this fight. It doesn't impact my life one way or the other if DC gets a baseball team. I also realize that my views on this issue aren't exactly rational, and I generally consider myself a rational person. Yes, public funded sports stadiums aren't the greatest way to expend tax revenue. Yes, many of the economic benefits are a substitution effect. I know this. I'm an MBA -- these aren't difficult concepts for me to understand. Yet, I can't bring myself to side with the traditional "conservative" folks on this issue. Is this merely because I'm a sports fan? Partially, but not completely. I think I can best sum up my answer with the following statement:

I can't get with people who take such glee in killing football and baseball.

I'm bothered by people who look at these sports as "just another activity". In other words, equating figure skating with football. For the sake of my argument, I'm going to just talk about football. Football is so ingrained in American culture that to me, pissing on it is a form of pissing on America. I realize that the sports-stadium opponents don't see themselves as pissing on America. I'm sure they see it as stopping some form of corporate welfare. To them, Sunday afternoon isn't an American institution -- nor is Monday night. But, I truly can't imagine an America without the NFL -- I don't think I want to. I don't want to lose the memories of me as a kid trying to collect all of the little football helmets from the gumball machine, hoping the Seahawks one would finally come up. When the game wasn't on, I'd play with that Super Jock field-goal kicker dude. You know -- the one where you pound on his head to make him kick the ball. I don't think an army of chiropractors could have saved Super Jock by the time I got done with him.

This of course led to the numerous backyard games with the Nerf with catchy titles like "smear the queer". Yes, 1978 was well before the PC era. Eventually, you work your way to high school. I actually played a couple years in high school, and then realized my beanpole frame wasn't well suited to the game, except to kick the ball between the goal posts. I did have one "hero" moment -- kicked a game winning extra point in a game. Naturally, the girls knocked themselves over to go out with me, right? In my dreams, yes -- reality was a much different story.

Nothing beat a high school game -- the marching band, the cheerleaders, sitting down with a dog and Coke, etc...You had the high school games on Friday, college on Saturday, and the NFL on Sunday. As they often say here in California, "good times".

Is there a point to this other than to relate my life story? Yes, and my point is this -- this is America. No, this is not just "my America" -- this is America. A very large portion of the male population in this country grew up in this America. The character of America that you see today starts with those backyard football games, and baseball games, and pickup basketball games. What about the troops? You know, those guys in uniform that you plaster bumper stickers all over your SUVs to show support for. Where do you think those guys were made? You think they were made at figure skating practice? No, they weren't. They were made on those ballfields, those sandlots, and those courts. Pat Tillman may be the obvious example, but he was not the only one. There are many more less famous who shared the same loves as him, and like him, paid the ultimate price. As somebody who knows, take it from me -- no troop ever got up at 3AM to watch a triple toe-loop. Monday Night Football is a different story.

I'm not suggesting that opponents of taxpayer-funded stadiums are un-American. I pointed out myself many legitimate reasons for opposing them. But, don't you dare piss on football or baseball or even basketball in my presence. Certain athletes and owners are fair game, but the sports themselves are not. Don't be like that utter tool Chris Van Dyk in Washington who called his group opposing the Seahawk Stadium "Citizens for More Important Things". Oh, and when asked what those more important things were, he couldn't name a single one. Oppose a baseball or football team coming to your locale if it is against your principles, but do me one favor -- don't be so goddamn happy about killing it. Cashing out!