Sports and the one-size-fits-all society
: I don’t like sports. I don’t play them because I’m too damned clumsy. I don’t watch them because I just don’t care and as un-American as it may be, I think baseball is b-o-r-i-n-g. (Insert show-tunes jokes here.)
So why should I have to subsidize sports fans in the rest of society? And why doesn’t society subsidize my hobbies? Or my business?
In newspapers, according to studies I once read (but can’t Google now), about 20 percent of a newspaper’s audience reads sports. And sports sections get little advertising, apart from tire ads. Yet a large proportion of the editorial and paper budget of a paper goes to sports and in these days of declining revenues, that’s an important consideration. (More on that in a bit.)
On cable TV, I have to pay for lots of sports channels I never watch. Why should I? Maybe everybody else should help pay for my broadband internet bill, huh?
In New Jersey, the state just agreed to build a new $750 million stadium to keep the Giants — a profitable, independent business, last I checked — with considerable taxpayer support. But very few taxpayers will ever get to see a game at that stadium; hell, season tickets are only inherited.
In my town, the city elders — an all-Republican team that spends our money like drunken Democrats — levied “open-space” taxes that they regularly waste buying property next to the interstate (gee, let’s go have a picnic down by the truck fumes) and near politicians’ homes (hmmm). They recently bought very nice farmland by a busy road. But did they leave this as open space? No, they constructed hugely expensive baseball and soccer fields with gigantic lights that belong on a Nascar track. And those facilities will be used by a small proportion of the population. Yet the entire town pays for them.
On a teen’s blog in my town, a kid asked why the town doesn’t build a movie theater because lots of teens would like to do that? I agree: If you can build a baseball diamond with our dollars, why not build a video game center where our kids could go and hang out with friends and supervision? There is one such place in our town and it’s a private business. But why shouldn’t it get taxpayer support the way the Giants do? This, too, is about citizens having fun, isn’t it?
When did it become assumed that sweat was entitled to support from the rest of us? Well, I think it’s a view of a one-size-fits-all society that is becoming obsolete. Media used to be one-size-fits-all: If enough people read sports, we’ll include it in the paper; if enough play it, we’ll build the fields; if enough watch it, we’ll build the stadiums. But in media, one-size-fits-all is dying. Isn’t it time for that view to die in the rest of society?