Sunday, August 7, 2011

Be a Sport.

You can't use sports as a metaphor for life. I'm not sure if anyone has tried, but it seems to me like someone has. Sports is so far separated from life, that to compare anything you do to something a professional athlete does is just plain silly.

Take, for example, the recent allegations that Yankees' third baseman Alex Rodriguez was caught in a high-stakes poker game with some rather distasteful people. Major League Baseball said something about it, to the point that a real investigation was performed. What MLB fails to realize is that these guys have two vital ingredients that work toward odd behavior: Money and time.
You pay these guys ridiculous sums of money - even the Major League minimum salary is close to a half million a year - and expect them to, what ... save it? They can't be on one side by paying the salaries that they pay and be on the other side by protesting what the guy does with the money. If you want people to behave, starve them financially and you won't have to worry about them being involved in anything that involves high stakes.

Fans aren't always any better an example. Recently, some fans in Boston went through a trash can to retrieve a foul ball. Baseball is the only sport where you get to take home a physical part of the game, and fans are relentless with the balls. I think the reason you can keep a stray baseball is that they're relatively cheap, at least when you compare the cost to a football or basketball. That's what makes the souvenir baseball so intriguing. They're cheap and not all that rare, and fans have done some odd things to take one home.
I wonder what the geological limit would be for fans to reach into something to get a souvenir ball? If the ball bounced into the Men's room and landed in a soiled toilet, would they reach in and grab it? I bet somebody would.

That sort of behavior contributes to the idea that sports doesn't align itself with real life. If I'm walking behind Al Pacino and he drops his pen, I'll give it back to him. I'm not anxious to leave the scene with an artifact. The polite thing for fans to to would be to give the ball back. But the reason they go to games is to escape reality, not be a part of it. So odd behavior at sporting events can also be justified.

Everything about sports is goofy. Food prices at the ballparks are outrageous,. It costs money to park your car at an event where you're paying to get in. People go to games wearing a shirt with somebody elses name on the back. And, if you go with a shirt that has your name on the back, you are ridiculed by the fan base.

They'll justify it by proclaiming, "I paid fifty bucks for this ticket, I'll do what I want!" When you add up the whole experience, it's more like you're into them for a hundred bucks. Suppose the school said that it would cost parents a hundred bucks to come to their child's high school graduation. Most of them would pay it, but they'd bitch like Hell. Meanwhile, they'll pay to watch a team play a sport, to the extent that they'll pay well in excess of the face value of the ticket for a chance to go to a game. Of course, some of those same people are paying seven bucks for cigarettes that will eventually kill them, so it seems to be a flexible spending plan.

Our priorities are out of whack.

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