A Sports World Worth Fighting For.

Author:Zirin, Dave
Position::EDGE OF SPORTS
 
FREE EXCERPT

The rise and popularity of democratic socialist politicians is one of the most exciting and inspiring political developments in years. Spurred by aspirations beyond mere resistance to Trump, this generation of radical activists is not only articulating what they are against but providing a vision for a different kind of world.

As Hawaiian Congressional candidate Kaniela Ing said in a tweet for a commercial that went viral, "What dreams would you pursue if your basic needs were met?"

It raises a fascinating question: What would or could sports look like if the athletic-industrial complex wasn't such a cutthroat big business and sports weren't so divided between those who play and those who watch?

First and foremost, in a more sane and just world, I believe we would see a drastic change in youth sports. Currently, according to polling by the National Alliance for Youth Sports, roughly 70 percent of children in this country stop playing organized sports by age thirteen. Burdened by the expectations of frustrated adults, they say, "It's just not fun anymore." That is a travesty.

Imagine instead a situation where you don't have to be a star athlete to play; where you can take the field because you want to build community, make friends, and exercise; where sports for kids don't exist to satisfy the egos of parents but are, heaven forbid, fun.

If we expand access as well as attitudes toward sports--having people be healthier, happier, and better-adjusted through exercise--that alone could trigger a tremendous change in our society. But our imagination needs to be bolder than even that. Imagine seeing an end--at long last!--to corporate welfare in sports. Currently, billions are spent on publicly funded stadiums.

Even in liberal Los Angeles, new stadium complexes are sprouting up at the same time that homelessness reaches epidemic levels. These stadiums stand as monuments to plutocratic greed--magical cathedrals that turn public money into private profit. A sane society would make billionaires pay for their own damn stadiums.

Seeing all of our youth having access to sports and our tax money not misused in the subsidizing of arenas might whet a collective appetite for more change. Hopefully it would set our eyes on one of the most unjust institutions on the sports landscape: the cartel of so-called amateur sports, the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Imagine a system where our institutions of higher learning weren't factories of...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP