If you’ve been here before then you know my feelings on sports. To put it mildly, I think that they are stupid; I have to go with Noam Chomsky’s assessment about them.
Well, in our society, we have things that you might use your intelligence on, like politics, but people really can’t get involved in them in a very serious way — so what they do is they put their minds into other things, such as sports. You’re trained to be obedient; you don’t have an interesting job; there’s no work around for you that’s creative; in the cultural environment you’re a passive observer of usually pretty tawdry stuff; political and social life are out of your range, they’re in the hands of the rich folks. So what’s left? Well, one thing that’s left is sports — so you put a lot of the intelligence and the thought and the self-confidence into that. And I suppose that’s also one of the basic functions it serves in the society in general: it occupies the population, and keeps them from trying to get involved with things that really matter.
Understanding Power, 2002
Think about it for a second: how many people do you know that can rattle off the starting lineup of a basketball team but couldn’t tell you the name of their current federal representatives (assuming that they even know what the term “federal representatives” means).
You can imagine my joy then when I was told that I would be going to a Hamilton Tiger-Cats football game on Saturday.
(Admittedly, I would rather be going to a CFL game than an NFL game. NFL fans are insane. The CFL seems to maintain the Canadian tradition of being respectful, polite, and well-behaved, so at least there would be fewer drunken idiots than you’d get in, say, Buffalo. Unfortunately, Ivor Wynne stadium is located way downtown in Hamilton, well past the bustling core and into the seething underbelly full of drugs, boarded-up buildings, and used car lots. But again, I would rather be there than someplace like, say, Buffalo.)
On Saturday afternoon, Erin and I packed up the baby, donned our warmest, grubbiest clothes, and headed out for what I could only hope would be a football game ended early due to hailstorms.
Now, I’m not an urban planner by trade, but I do know that when you build a stadium, you need to put some place for people to park. Three-foot wide residential streets don’t count. At least lacking a decent parking lot allows the owners of those houses a chance to pick up a few extra bucks by renting out their driveways for a few hours.
“Hey,” Erin said to me, pointing at a kid holding a handwritten cardboard sign with “$10” on it. “Let’s park there.” I watched as the kid waved another car into the driveway, took the money, then moved down a few houses to stand in front of an empty space, his sign still out and his hand still beckoning.
“What do you think the odds are that that kid lives at both houses?” I asked, watching another car get directed into a driveway to a house that was just a little bit burned down. The kid waved in two more cars, boxed in the first one, took everyone’s money, and ran.
“Not good,” said Erin.
Part 2 on Wednesday