Sports have become so commercialized and militarized that I often am tempted to shut my Tv and retire to a state of depression. First, we have what was once a game become a vehicle to sell products. For example, a one hour (that’s 60 minutes) football game has been remade into a 3 to 4 hour commercial. The game has become incidental. The same can be said for basketball, baseball, and hockey. There is rarely a moment when play stops and there is no commercial or commercials to tolerate.
Even when we go to post game analysis, we find that Budweiser is bringing the scores around the league or Ford Motors is bringing us interviews from the locker room.
As if commercializing is not enough, we find that at Yankee Stadium, as well as other ballparks around the league, what was once nothing more than the seventh inning stretch has been changed to a moment of patriotism. While the fans stand, a retired or former US soldier is paraded onto the field to be honored for the sacrifice they’ve made in “protecting us against the dangers to us emanating around the world”. While this is taking place on the field, we have the super patriots in the stands unfurling the American flag while we all sing to the song God Bless America that is being blasted over the PA system.
During basketball and hockey games, there is the continuous flashing of corporate commercials while the games are in progress.
During football games, we often have, before the game begins, the unfurling of an American flag the size of the entire field, with military men and women standing at attention while we sing the national anthem. If this is not enough, during the Super Bowl, we are treated to jet fighters roaring overhead.
Ballgames have become a major vehicle to promote US militarism, commercialism, and imperialism. How sad. It used to be nothing more than a game, a place where one went to have fun and root for one’s team.
Dave Alpert has master’s degrees in social work, educational administration, and psychology. He spent his career working with troubled inner-city adolescents.