Baseball and the unfairness of the American way

society

$29 for nosebleed seats at a recent baseball game.  You’ve got to be kidding me.

Okay, first let me admit a few things.  Baseball itself bores the hell out of me; I attended only for the social atmosphere and the opportunity to hang with some friends.  And yes, I do pay (less grudgingly) $40-$70 for an evening of live theatre.

But I got to thinking… $29 for this activity is just ridiculous, and not because it’s not worth $29 of fun for some people.  No, it’s because I’m being inundated with bazillions of blaring, garish ads all around me, I can barely see what’s going on on the field without binoculars, and these overpaid oft-steroid’ed babies down there are raking in millions of bucks per year.  Frankly, if all was right with the world, I thought, these folks (and their managers and everyone associated with such a non-critical function of society) would make, say, $150,000 a year, tops.

My dad, the semi-retired award-winning teacher featured on CNN and in People magazine for his life-changing dedication to young people… he certainly never topped six figures in a year.

Firefighters, paramedics, Peace Corp engineers… how many of them make in a year what some whiny brats make in the stadium in one week or even one day?

Clearly, there’s absolutely zero correlation in our country (or, sadly, most countries) between intrinsic-worth-to-society and compensation.

You can argue that sports pulls us together, promotes harmony, makes our lives brighter.  Pshaw.  Maybe in a bygone era.  How many of our current sports “heroes” can rightly be called, well, heroes?  How many of them serve as shining examples to our kids?  Are there ANY highly-paid pro athletes who clearly play for the love of the game, for the love of their fans, for anything other than more bling-bling?  When I walked out of the ballpark the other day, I felt like I had just paid to be witnessing a long, drawn out commercial featuring plastic video effects, plastic runners, and plastic fans who dutifully cheered on cue whenever “Make some noise!” flashed on the ad-covered jumbotron.

It’s not just the world of sports, though.  If we stopped paying [x] million per movie or per CD, would we really find ourselves without any willing and talented actors and actresses or writers or musicians?  Would NO ONE contribute athletically or artistically without the potential for striking it rich?

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In my ideal society, people could still easily make a comfortable living as athletes, entertainers, artists.  But the spectacle of a handful of people—and, frankly, often not-very-nice people at that—getting filthy stinking rich while the majority of others have to work two unglamorous jobs to make ends meet… that just really irks me.

And, hell, I’ll go off on a tangent here… why is America so addicted to Names?  Why do we go see an unflinchingly horribly crappified movie just because it stars a star?  Can’t we just get a poster of the guy or girl and put it up in our bedroom?  Conversely, why do fine films languish simply because they’ve “got no star power”?

In a larger sense… why are we so addicted to fame, or, more specifically, the famous?  Are our lives that meaningless and empty that we have to hero’ize and throw money at those who already have way too much adulation and moolah?

Blah.  Unfortunately, I have no answers.  Where people will pay, people will earn.  And, as usual, we’ll continue to be blind to the long-term benefits of truly supporting (okay, subsidizing) careers that truly make the world a better place.

Until someday, we idealistic geeks and goddamn commie-pinko intellectuals take over the world.  Maybe even in my lifetime… 😉

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P.S.—If, even after being subjected to this rant, you’d still like to see my photos from the baseball park, you’re welcome to 😀

4 comments… add one
  • Jimbo Jul 14, 2006

    I agree with you on the athletes and our obsession (in general) with sports. Why do we feel the need to clump together academics and athletics in our universities? I personally consider the Arts as important as the Sciences. (Someone has to make the design of great inventions work well with the people and environment benefitting from such inventions.) Why do “jocks” get out of History 101 for away-games, but art students can’t get out of a single class to prepare for their Senior Art Show? And eventhough I agree that we as a society should re-evaluate our priorities, I would NOT go so far as to say communism is the way to correct the issues we currently face. Otherwise, good jorb homesar.

  • aaron wall Jul 16, 2006

    Amplifying what is already somewhat popular, controlling media consumption habbits, and/or consistently beating a branded message into people’s heads about what people should consume or how important other people are does three highly important things

    – creates large target markets
    – creates arbitrary standards that you or I can’t meet such that we are inadequate and are receptive to product / service pitches that will make us complete in a consumeristic society
    – keeps people focused on arbitrary things outside of the sphere of power & social policy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSxYEzSpFdc

    The market for something to believe in is infinite.
    http://www.gapingvoid.com/Moveable_Type/archives/000823.html

  • Adam Jul 16, 2006

    Jimbo… I definitely was not blanketly advocating communism, but I do think we can learn a lot from the ideals of both communism and socialism.  So many Americans blindly assume that either our current form of capitalism or “true” capitalism (if they’re a bit more thoughtful) is irreversible, ultimately inescapable, and absolutely desireable.  When Bush, for instance, insists that we impose democracy on the world, what he really means is capitalism.  “Free markets.”  The two concepts are NOT interchangeable.

    Aaron… I’m not sure whether to attribute much more than creative cartoon’ing to the gapingvoid guy quite frankly; while both he and Noam (in the video you’ve linked and elsewhere) make use of abstract concepts and even “buzzwords,” I am not convinced that Hugh is adept at making coherent and focused arguments and outlying specific action plans.  At least Noam, IMHO, has a history of adhering to a larger, global vision 😀

  • aaron wall Jul 16, 2006

    IMHO, Hugh really sells into the whole concept of selling stuff.

    Maybe he only knows cartoons on business cards, but he was able to use it to do whatever he wanted (while being overpaid at it, too).

    Obviously Hugh and Noam are quite different in their approaches, but I think it is rare that an individual gets at either of their level of success while being as transparent, vocal, and unfiltered with expressing their opinions as they are.

    I stopped associating the US with free markets long ago. Daily I am reminded of how free market oriented our government is when I read about playing down net neutrality and I think about paying $40 a month for DSL that worked ~50% of the time this last month (in spite of nearly daily calls to Verizon), especially when Bruce Sterling said at his 2006 SXSW speech that he pays $20 a month for reliable internet access in a third world country where the company servicing his account is ran by convicted war criminals.

    I could delve a bit deeper into that free market topic, but my knowledge is limited and I should keep my deep rants on my blog. Would hate for you to associate my name with “troll” on my first day of commenting on your blog.*

    *unless, of course, Google has a troll boost in the relevancy algorithms.

What do you think?