The Sliding Sports Landscape

13 07 2007

by torytheeducator

How much longer will this go on? Is it just me, or is the chasm between fans growing wider and wider? I speak, not of Giants fans hating Dodger fans or UCLA versus USC. I am speaking of the disparity between fans who root for the same team. I speak of the have and the have- nots. One could go to any professional sports game and perform a sociological experiment to see it. Fans, rooting for the same team, are growing more and more distant. It was no more apparent than it was at Tuesday night’s Major League Baseball All Star game.

First off, if you were even lucky to get tickets, then you could have seen the atrocities performed that night. However, one look at the Giants ticket site showed tickets, being sold by season ticket holders, for a measly $1,500 a pop. This paled in comparison to the $26,000 pair of tickets to sit near the commissioner. It is safe to say that the majority of the public could not or would not pay these ridiculous sums to see a game that is losing relevancy fast. I was one of the lucky ones, I got in for free. What lies ahead is capitalism at its finest.

The game itself was decent in that it showed just how good the pitchers in the American League were. Justin Verlander was clocking in at a smooth 100 MPH, and Johan Santana was lights out. Yet, once I stepped back to look at the big picture, it was tough to swallow. The game was a microcosm of what sports has become: a cash cow for the MLB, just so the fans can worship the demagogues they themselves created. We’re talking $50 just to park. But here we were, in the season ticket holder section and shelling out $8 for a beer, watching the players we so desperately wanted to call heroes, all the while hoping for more.

We sat next to a pair of friends who had been Giants fans since the McCovey days (1959-1973 and 1977-1980). I have to say that if anyone deserved to be right next to the action, it was these two gentlemen. But here they were, a lifetime worth of Giants memories, with the player they loved, and they left with a cheap plastic seat cushion, and $200 less dollars in their pockets. They watched as fellow fans in the lower level received a myriad of lavish gifts from Major League Baseball. I couldn’t help but feel a little sad for them that Barry Bonds did not hit a home run.

Nevertheless, it is hard to comprehend the growing disparity between fans and “fans.” By being at the game, one can see just how big the gap is. Sure, we hear all the rhetoric saying that players are paid too much, or that owners are greedy. But we have to realize that they are merely exploiting the market. The fans, as well as “fans,” have created the monster we know as professional sports. Yet, we continue to let this unmitigated travesty happen. As fans, we must ask ourselves, “Why?” Until then, we must look to the past, to those who truly were heroes in sports, to see the ones who helped earthquake victims, or the one who said that he was the luckiest man on the face of the earth, even while facing down a fatal disease.

As we left the stadium, I could not help but feel a bit empty. My father was great company, and we got to see some of the best players of the last 20 years. I remembered those two men. The two men who nearly cried when they saw Willie Mays walk out from centerfield to throw out the first pitch. The men who could only reminisce about the good old days. Not even because of the game itself, but rather because I was a fan.

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