It is also fascinating how much time, money, and energy go into the whole fan phenomenon. Every twist of the McCourts’ divorce and Commissioner Selig’s subsequent actions was reported in the local media with more attention than they gave City Hall, Sacramento, and Washington combined—to say nothing of events overseas. People who ordinarily had too little to say about sports became impassioned about it all.
What is true of Dodger baseball here is true of sports in general, in this country and overseas, as innumerable examples of stadium mayhem attest. How many folk can rattle off the most obscure sets of sports scores but would be hard-pressed to name all the presidents or states? How many thousands see nothing wrong in their rulers’ conduct but see mortal enemies in rival teams’ fans? How many of the same number are disposed to ignore real heroism in soldiers, police, or medical personnel but swoon over major-league players? Perhaps sports really are the opiate of the people.
All this ballyhoo seems far removed from what one always supposed was the ideal of sports—to create sound minds in sound bodies. Arguably the most devout of sports spectators are the least athletic; the Dodger Dogs they gobble down en masse at games aren’t exactly health food. Whatever other purposes pro sports may serve, they do not help develop sound bodies among their spectators.
Still and all, team sports help shore up American communities’ ever eroding sense of pride. This is not only true for the major leagues. In small towns across America, high-school sports teams are one of the essential building blocks of local unity. Perhaps that is reason enough to support them.
Here in Los Angeles the rejoicing continues. Given the economy, our poor local leadership, and the general gloomy prospects that face us all, I hope the cheering lasts as long as possible. There shall be time enough for weeping when the season ends.
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