Category: No No, Your’re Wrong

An opportunity for one of us to defend something another has ranted about. Our version of “He Said, She Said.”

Jane you ignorant slut!

What Are Your Expectations of a Professional Sports Franchise?

I have to start this post by saying thank you to Jon for the kind words.  You can probably tell I’m better at yelling my points with a beer in my hand over a camp fire.  More importantly I think we are finding common ground which is comforting.  The subject is almost beaten into submission.

The first take away from Jon’s most recent post is the point that professional sports leagues should require an additional governing body to ensure the league is moral and ethically run.  I still disagree.  The MLS has a governing body over them called FIFA.  FIFA is the epitome of corruption, evil and all things unholy.  They make the NCAA look like the girl scouts.  Jon could have built his entire argument out of FIFA and the NCAA but choose to attack western culture instead.

The professional sports leagues in the U.S. do have a governing body and unfortunately it’s the federal government.  (Don’t roll your eyes… I’m as pessimistic about this as you are.  Unfortunately it’s all we got.)  Now this point I’m about to make is a slippery slope.  If a pro sports franchise wants public money to build a stadium, then the team better listen when the government comes calling.  Example:  The NFL Labor Situation.  The owners locked out the players, stopping the off-season and it may cancel the 2011 season.  If the lockout lasts into the fall when the season begins, the owners can be forced to pay the cities for the use of the publicly financed stadia.  The league is getting paid TV revenue whether there is a season or not.  My point is that the feds have the preverbal hammer; they just need the balls to use it.  Just like every other big company in the country.

Now, your counter argument is, “but government AND big business are both corrupt!”  No sh*t!  That’s why I watch football on weekends instead of CNN.  My head would explode.  Feel free to join me Sunday mornings for football, bloody mary’s and omelets.

Jon’s next point: “We should be worshiping teachers, firemen, policemen, scientists, engineers, and doctors.  Instead, we venerate pro athletes, actors, and rock stars.  This, my friends, is a true question of priorities.”  Completely agree and tried to make the same point.  Moving on.

I can and will argue that steroids saved baseball.  After the strike in 1994-95, fans did not embrace baseball.  Attendance was at an all time low, fans were pissed, and the league was considering contraction shortly after.  Then in 1998, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire decided to go blow for blow on a quest for 61* homeruns.  The summer of 1998 captured the fans interest and brought them back to baseball to see something “special”.  In hindsight we realized we needed to replace “special” with “fake” and a lot of people soured on the game once again.  Fans felt and still feel betrayed.  The players cheated while the owners and good ol’ Bud turned a blind eye.

The Seattle Mariners and their minor league affiliates have suspended more players than almost any other for steroid use since testing became tighter.  In the last 5 years, this team has been last in almost every offensive category.  As a result of poor offense and an inept front office, the team has had the worst attendance in the history of Safeco Field.  Wins will bring the fans back eventually.  500 foot homeruns and 12-10 scores will bring them back now.  I can go to a game and see a 1-0 pitching duel and leave satisfied.  I can appreciate defense and a 10 strike out game.  The moron fans that I have been berating the last couple days can’t.

To recap the week of debate:

-Society values pop culture icons and athletes over people who provide a larger benefit to our community.  This is a paradigm that only parents and a change in culture can revolutionize.  (I don’t think it ever will)

-Professional sports provide civic pride, increase commerce and are more to a community than just a form of entertainment.

-The NCAA and FIFA are out of control and at some point government/someone needs to step in.

-Many people (not me) think professional sports leagues are socially or ethically obligated to do more to help out the communities they profit from.

Please comment and help us put a nice bowtie on the subject with your thoughts.  What are your expectations of a professional sports league?


Professional Sports, Ethics, and a Question of Priorities

In the interest of avoiding a long string of back-and-forth comments, I’ve decided this one should just have its own post.  This is in response to Jeff’s response to comments made by myself in response to Chase’s post from last week.  Got all that?  Good.

First and foremost:  Jeff, commendable rebuttal; it was well thought and well written.  Coming from the guy that loudly (and frequently) proclaims his own general literary ineptitude, it was anything but inept.  Well played, sir, well played indeed.  That being said, of course I feel the need of my own rebuttal, partly because there are still certain things I disagree with, and partly in the interest of maintaining that notorious Chouinard stubbornness.  However, I do agree with you on a few accounts, so I’ll try to keep this short (good luck with that, right?).

I absolutely agree that professional sports are a business, and as such, their job is to make money; hence the qualifying term “professional”.  At the same time, and as professionals of every other industry will tell you, being a professional doesn’t give you carte blanche to do whatever you want and call it business.  Being a professional, whether it be an athlete, engineer, doctor, lawyer, or whatever, you are bound to a code of conduct and a set philosophy (called ethics; remember those, America?) that dictate your obligations to your clients/customers/fans, as well what is and isn’t considered professional behavior – in a perfect world, of course.  This is why (again, in theory) we have professional organizations such as the National Society of Professional Engineers, the American Bar Association, and the American Medical Association.  Now, obviously these institutions have other functions besides just codifying and enforcing ethics in their respective professions; nonetheless, this is a big part of what these associations do and a big part of why they were founded in the first place.  The same should be true of the professional sports league associations; however, like all corporate entities, they seem to get caught up in the cycle of making more and more money each year, at the cost of losing sight of their founding principles.  Basically, it comes down to a question of priorities.  When the priorities change from providing the sport in a pure, unadulterated form for the enjoyment of the people and the betterment of the community, to bringing in as many dollars a year as possible, regardless of what it does to the actual game, the players, and/or the fans…this is the problem.  And here I think I’m getting back to the message of Chase’s original post:  the game is no longer pure, because it has been turned into Big Business.  As to your argument that “[Pro sports teams] have one obligation.  Make butt loads of money,” it’s exactly this type of thinking that is ruining the sports we love.  Their obligation should be, first and foremost:  Play the game the way it was meant to be played, and make it so that people are able to enjoy it, without creating a culture of greed and ego that will inevitably corrupt.  This is why leagues like the NFL were founded in the first place, and I doubt that Jim Thorpe and Leo Lyons would be exactly thrilled to see the amount of control businessmen have over the game and the league they worked so hard to cultivate.  Of course, lacking a time machine, I can’t actually ask them their opinion.  Yes, the leagues need to make money to continue to operate.  No, I don’t think the players should work for free.  Nonetheless, I think that we’re allowing greed to overcome the reason these sports exist in the first place, which is to entertain people, bring people together, and make a positive contribution to our culture.  If they make a positive contribution to our local economy and their own bank accounts as well, no one can blame them for this, and I’m not trying to do so.  It’s great what a local sports team can do for a city; hell, you know I’d love to see a pro hockey team here in Seattle, and we of all cities should have one.  Do you know which was the first American team to win the Stanley Cup?  The Seattle Metropolitans.  If any city in the US needs to have a pro hockey team, it’s Seattle; as you said however, we are a city that seems to care f#*%-all for pro sports (I’m paraphrasing here).

Regarding your comment that it’s not the responsibility of pro sports leagues to make sure our poor, thankless, and underpaid teachers are paid a fair wage, I wholeheartedly agree.  I never said it was their responsibility, nor was I arguing that it’s their responsibility to cure cancer and end war.  What I was driving at (and what you and Jason seem to have overlooked in quickly jumping to the leagues’ defense) is that we, as a society, have completely skewed our priorities in favor of an industry that doesn’t do any of the above-mentioned things (the Christmas Truce was, after all, a result of Christmas and the culmination of the live-and-let-live philosophy that had been growing globally during World War I – the soccer game among combatants was just a happy side-effect).  This is the entire point of my previous comments and this post.  We should be worshiping teachers, firemen, policemen, scientists, engineers, and doctors.  Instead, we venerate pro athletes, actors, and rock stars.  This, my friends, is a true question of priorities.  If we, as a society, faced extinction tomorrow, which of these two groups would be the ones in a position to prevent it?  Unless we’re faced with an alien species of exceptionally good ballers challenging us to a game of winner-take-planet HORSE, I think the answer is clear.  So when you say blame the deadbeat parents, or our elected officials, or the fans that can’t control their anger or remember that it’s just a game…this is, in fact, what I’ve been doing all along.  I’m not blaming the institution for what we’ve turned it into, I’m blaming the people that have made it this way, and I’m pointing a finger at why, in my humble opinion, it has become this way.  You can’t blame cancer for the death of a loved one; you can’t blame war for the devastation it causes; you can’t blame ignorance on the ignorant (leaving aside willful ignorance, another thing at which we Americans excel).  No, you can only blame the cause.  Greed is what has caused the loss of purity Chase lamented in his post that started this whole thing.  So cap the friggin’ salaries, scale back the industry to a more manageable size, split the damn leagues so we have something like pro football the way it began in the ’20s, where the athletes played for love of the game (note that I’m using football in the analogy – no copyright infringement, Misters Costner and Raimi), and not for a multi-million dollar contract.  Bring back hockey the way it was before the ’94 lockout, or better yet, before 1926, when the Stanley Cup was actually a “challenge” cup to be awarded to the best amateur team, and not solely the championship trophy of the NHL.  This meant, essentially, that the Cup was open to all comers, and skill and heart were the only things a team needed to win, not a cordon of lawyers, business executives, PR reps, and accountants.  There is a reason why all the professional sports leagues started from the ground up: because the games used to speak for themselves, and people loved them for the excitement they brought, the skill of the players, and how the games brought us together.  Remember that Saturday night baseball game back when you were a kid?  Back before you knew anything about player contracts, league commissioners, salary caps, or steroids?  That is the reason we love sports; that is the way sports were meant to be seen and played; that is the innocence we have lost.

So when you say “vote with your wallet”, I am.  Is there a better way than by not giving money (which is, we agree, what they’re after) to something I don’t believe in?  Maybe by saying why I don’t believe in it, which is in fact what this is all about.  It’s not meant as an attack on several of my friends’ choice of entertainment, nor is it the childish complaint of “No fair!  I’m not playing!”  Just because the world isn’t fair doesn’t mean that we don’t have a right to want it to be and the responsibility of striving to make it that way.  So go vote for more funding for education programs already.  We might still have a chance of preventing this country from descending to the level of Idiocracy.

The Social Contract of Professional Sports

A recent post and following comments have sparked something in my small brain that I can’t let go. I felt obligated to comment but didn’t know how without sounding like a giant prick. (I can’t afford to alienate our two readers) I gave myself a short waiting period to gather my thoughts and wanted to throw them out here.

Professional sports are a business.

It is their mission in life to make as much effing money as humanly possible. Nothing more. Hell, the NFL wants to invade England and take over the world. Every owner, agent, player, coach, cheerleader (yay cheerleaders), beer vendor and jersey chaser is in it for the money (ask Shawn Kemp). The only people not trying to make money are the interns. They are just trying to get a date by bragging they work for the ‘Hawks.

It’s not the league’s responsibility to make sure fire fighters, teachers and police officers make more money. It’s your poorly elected officials job….and therefore yours.

If you are thinking the NCAA is not a professional sports league you need your head examined. Everything above still applies. Those corrupt a-holes deserve their own “must be stopped” column. And pay the damn players already.

Athletes are morons.

Here is the list of athletes I follow on twitter.

1) Matt Hasselbeck.

2) John Ryan

3) Shawn Kelley

4) Andres Gonzales

That’s the list. I follow 12 journalists for every one athlete. Journalists get paid to communicate and can do so with complete, coherent (mostly) thoughts. I hate reading or listening to athletes in interviews. When one of them goes off script and doesn’t remember their clichés, I vomit. I don’t want those airheads making me dumber. (Get it, dumber isn’t a word) Listening to a rich guy who gets paid to hit a ball (or people) will ruin your perception of him. It’s like seeing a hot girl from 100 yards away. When she gets closer, the image is ruined.

Does it bother me that the Eagles hired a convicted dog killer to become the face of their franchise? Yes, it does. Would I stop going to ‘Hawks games if they had done the same thing? Maybe. Here’s my point, the Philadelphia Eagles have one obligation. Make butt loads of money. Dog Killer = Wins = Season Tickets = Money. If their stadium was empty the first game after signing Vick, he would have been packing his bags for the CFL that afternoon. You have a vote and it is with your dollar. Same goes for you idiots who pay $50 (approximately) for a warm cup of beer. Stop giving them money, they will change. Just ask the Mariners.

Don’t use athletes as an ambassador for pro sports. Don’t use the owners. Use the fans. They are the ones who have poured their heart, soul and money into rooting for something bigger than themselves. They go because they do in fact give a crap.

Our city believes professional sports are beneath them.

Ok, I might start stereotyping here and this is why I didn’t initially want to write this post. If you are not a sports fan, please continue reading the blog. However, instead of reading my posts, just go read the Citizens For More Important Things and you can discuss how much more enlightened you are than me.

When the Sonics came to Seattle, the city needed them. We were the last town on the way to Alaska. We were nothing. The Sonics helped create the Seattle Center and subsequently brought us the World’s Fair. Now that we have all our problems solved, we can worry about saving the salmon, building solar panels we don’t need, and bashing our under paid police officers and teachers publicly for doing a thankless job.

Go take a walk though Seattle Center and let me know how it’s prospered since we lost our basketball team. The Seattle University Redhawks really packed the Key. The surrounding area that used to have restaurants, bars and team shops are all gone. It’s a depressing landscape of cracked concrete and crack heads. At least they haven’t closed Dicks Drive In yet.

It’s obvious the NBA business model is broken beyond belief. I’d never let my hypothetical kid watch the NBA. You have players that get max contracts and then literally lose interest in playing. These players hold the team “cap hostage” while the OWNER OF THE TEAM loses 8 million dollars a year just by keeping the lights on and the doors open. I hate the NBA’s business model and fuck David Stern.

This regions wealthiest people have projects of their own. The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is one of the most beautiful new buildings I have ever seen. Its purpose you may ask? To figure out all the philanthropical way’s to donate their money. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. It’s great and just goes to show you where priorities lay.

If our city leaders and billionaires were sports fans, we would have an arena with a surrounding area for shops, restaurants and a team to draw people back into the area. The subject of the Sonics in general has been beaten to death. I’m just tired of the “we don’t need them, or any professional sports franchise here”. YES! YES! YOU DO! You need a thriving down town area and you need some civic pride back in Seattle. You also need a tourist draw in the winter months. I’m sometimes embarrassed about the “I’m too cool to give a crap about sports” attitude we have here. We deserve all the bashing from the national media we get. This town is soft and it pisses me off.

Last thought…

Do professional sports cure cancer? The Seattle Mariners donate heavily to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Seattle Children’s hospital. You can argue they aren’t causing cancer. Ulcers, yes. Cancer, No.

Can sports stop a war? You must be referring to the Christmas Truce of 1914. Throughout history, soccer has in fact stopped or at least recessed war.

As a self described pessimist, I think all people are corrupt a-holes and I do believe sports fans are morons. With sabermetrics we are now educated morons. With the internet we are morons with a sense of entitlement. (Please continue to support to inflate my sense of entitlement)

If we are putting athletes on a pedestal and calling them heroes unjustly, that is not the athletes fault. Blame the dead beat parents who should be the real heroes.

If you think publicly financing stadiums is a waste of resources, get off your ass and vote stadium initiatives down. (Which you have)

If you are pissed off when a few Dodger fans beat the hell out of a Giants fan because he wore orange, don’t blame the Dodgers organization. Blame the morons who beat crap out of the guy. It can be that simple.

When people are burning down their city when they win or lose a championship, blame the idiotic few who caused the damage. What did the Vancouver Canucks do to cause that? Win or lose, that city was going down.

Sports are important for all the reasons Jon mentioned in his comments that put my brain in a blender in the first place. I believe kids need to play sports to get the discipline our parents are now too chickensh*t to infuse themselves. I believe there is something special about taking a kid to a game and showing them what true talent is. I believe we need a sense of pride and something to cheer for together. We need to see a form of entertainment that isn’t computer generated. We need more professional athletes making millions so we can tax the hell out of them.

You want to argue teams should sign players for millions of dollars who possess a larger moral compass? Go for it. Vote with your wallet as I mentioned before. I’ll be in your corner.

Just don’t tell me pro sports aren’t important and have “no cultural value”.