- Fri, 11/11/2011 - 04:00
- 2 Comments about What the public can learn from sports riots
Look at the image of the media truck toppled on its side by rioters. One might jump to the conclusion that the Occupy Movement got bold, that class war finally meant something and that people were outraged by the failure of corporate media.
Yeah right. This is the United States. That act of property destruction couldn’t be the product of a political riot. Activists don’t get that angry. Only one thing could cause that—sports.
Penn State fires the coach. Students riot. Schools raise tuition, states cut school budgets, the military’s poverty draft compels more youth to die overseas, corporations continue to pillage the earth, and hundreds of thousands of people lose their homes to banks. The public remains largely calm.
Why do people in the United States appear to care more about their football team than the political moment we live in?
It is easy to come to the quick assumption that people in the U.S. are stupid, lazy, disconnected and largely apathetic; however, a riot, even a sports riot, suggests something quite different. Americans feel more powerful at a sports game than at the ballot, more inspired by athletes than by politicians and activists and more loyal to coaches than to social movement elders.
Why does the appeal of sports figures trump that of U.S. politicians? Quite simply, the athletes are more inspiring. A good coach rallies team morale, pleases its fans by taking risks, coordinates bold maneuvers and never shies away from a good fight. Players serve fans by sticking to their guns and winning games.
In contrast, the political establishment thrives on betraying its fans, the voters who believed, the people allegedly represented. The representatives’ loyalty is to the wealthy and to the middle road between the richest of the rich and the richest of the middle class.
Political compromise sells out the vast majority of us, whom nobody in Washington or the boardrooms of corporations represents.
It’s not as though the joy of sports remains untouched by the malevolence of corporate interest. Corporations have found ways of compromising athletics with advertising. More horrifically, they have bought off the basic democratic concept of rule by the people.
Consider Halliburton. They will never determine who wins a ballgame. They will influence who gets elected and what policies are passed.
People rightly think they have more power eating a hotdog and doing the wave than voting, meeting with politicians and struggling for reform. Political reform is a dead end road for those aiming for social change.
What the public has forgotten, in its political disenchantment, is the power of the riot—something the politically engaged could relearn from sports fans. Perhaps one day, home foreclosures, tuition increases, and police brutality will spark riots as readily as football coach firings.