Sports is a bit of an obsession of mine. It kind of has to be when you root for the Tennessee Titans and they win about as often as we have a hurricane in Stevens County.
There’s nothing quite like a baseball game at Spokane’s Avista Stadium with the sun setting, or a high school football game at Snyder Field when you catch a wiff of the BBQ off to the side of the stands (I seriously think they use that as part of their cover defense, the smoke gets so thick that sometimes the QB can’t see the WR). Watching a Seattle Sounders games with 30,000 other people wearing scarves and Fedoras they got from Hipsters-R-Us is also something you should behold at least once in your life.
And let’s not forget Martin Stadium, which somehow manages to be louder and more excited than Husky Stadium – despite the fact UW’s stadium is twice as big and they’re team usually has a better record.
Sports is a spectacle. Adam Morrison’s mustache. Katy Perry’s halftime show. Tim Tebow doing anything. It’s meant to appease Joe Everybody and make us feel better that we can probably pitch better than any of the Mariners relievers.
The problem is, sports is also a big business. Look no further than what happened to the Seattle Supersonics, the rampant corruption in college football or the ridiculousness of publicly funding the next greatest NFL superstructure that they liberally call “stadiums.” Leagues and teams claim fan loyalty when in reality they just want to run a bubble screen in your wallet.
The biggest problem I have with seeing things like this is what a waste of money it is. You Washington sports fans only need to hear one thing to understand what a waste of money is: Richie Sexson.
And we can freak out all we want when some Seattle road construction project goes over budget but are we really going to ignore the hulking Seahawks Stadium right across the street that literally replaced another big hulking stadium? Sixty-five percent of that building was funded by you or I.
“But NFL stadiums enrich the culture of the city!”
Has Seattle fallen into a state of disrepair since the Sonics left? Somehow padding the pockets of more NFL owners (including a guy that somehow thinks the term Redskins is respectful) — improves the living conditions of a city is comical logic at best.
So if you’re a cynic like me about the business of sports (and let’s face it, this column is maxing out the grumpy old man meter), you’ll no doubt have your ears and eyes tuned to the disaster that is the Rio Olympics.
It’s going to take all manner of real and mental gymnastics to feel great about watching athletes compete when there are slums and drug gangs all over Rio. A country – Brazil – which has a large chunk of the population living in poverty – shelled out a huge amount of money to have these games.
Currently police and firemen are protesting because they’re not getting paid for the work they do. Yeah…
These games have already been marred by substandard athlete housing, concerns over swimmers and rowers contracting all sorts of nasty diseases from the sewage-infested waters around Rio and Olympic athletes being robbed – by the police.
And this is all because the Olympic Committee likes their money.
The sad truth is instead of putting all this money into helping the poor, they’re putting into these games. I mean if you don’t have clean water for the biggest sporting event on the planet, what must the everyday person have to suffer through?
Factor in that host nations almost never break even or make money by hosting Olympic Games – unless they’re ran by Mitt Romney – and most of these athletic facilities they built will become abandoned right after the games, it all just looks like a sad waste of money and effort.
Seriously why? Do we like rowing that much? If we don’t get our floor gymnastics routine in are we going to keel over? Do medal counts determine who gets to take over eastern Ukraine or something?
And as bad as Rio is, it pales in comparison to the World Cup in Qatar in 2022. The country is using slave labor to construct the facilities there. It’s 2016, and we’re using slaves.
And again, why? Because FIFA probably got a king’s ransom in kickback money.
Sports at their core are recreation. They’re games. And when they take priority over things like, say clean water, a healthy populace and city infrastructure – you’ve got a serious cultural problem.
So many times sports is a reflection of how a society is doing. If the two biggest sporting events on the earth are being held in a slum and a country that is using slave labor – what does that say about our planet?
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be in my doomsday bunker with my Twinkies.
By Brandon Hansen/The Independent Staff