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My Name is Dan and I'm a "Left-Wing Sports Fan"

With the Olympic Games in Sochi off to a start, I thought this would be as good of time as any to write this short confessional blog.

PART 1

Dear "left-wing progressive" friends,

I like sports. I know you don't like to hear that or understand why someone such as myself would find sports appealing, but it's true. I was privileged enough to play on team sports for most of my childhood and loved that experience. I loved the camaraderie of my teammates, the competition, and the values of team work and cooperation that I learned from coaches, peers, and parents.

To this day, I still enjoy watching and playing hockey and baseball (I even watch the Olympics). However, I have a profound disdain for the culture that is created within sports by corporate mainstream society. The corporate controlled and hyper-masculine nature of major sports is disturbing and problematic. It justifies Marx's critique that cultural products like sports are a bourgeois distraction from the struggles of the every day working person.

However, sports are just that, a reflection of the current culture we live in. If we choose to ignore them completely, then we are failing to engage with a major component of who we are. We don't ignore music, movies and other cultural products because of their corporate influence, so why should we do the same with sports? The issues within society play out within sports and are sometimes amplified by it. Just look at the Michael Sam story from this week (http://www.thenation.com/blog/178319/michael-sam-owns-his-truth-will-nfl-owners-join-him) or even Jackie Robinson during the civil rights era. I say it's important that we acknowledge sports for what they are and attempt to beat out the corporate fascism that now controls them.

I'm sorry if this doesn't sit well with you, but it's hard to ignore something I feel so passionate about.

PART 2

Dear sports friends,

My politics are left of center. I have a ton of issues with sports and the culture that is permeated around it. When you're around sports and locker rooms, it's hard to ignore the inherently sexist, racist, and homophobic comments made by both fans and athletes. It signals to others that sports should only be enjoyed by the dominant group in society who fit a certain type. You need to end that, NOW. Don't laugh when you hear a homophobic joke, don't perpetuate a racial stereotype, and don't objectify women. These issues are not just relegated to sports locker rooms or sports fans, but they are a place where hyper-masculinity definitely takes root and perpetuates white male privilege at a very high rate.

The corporate control of your favourite sports team is ruining sports. Owners are hurting your cities by strong arming local governments and tax payers to subsidize their arenas while they walk away with the majority of the profit. They view athletes as commodities and fans as mindless consumers. You are more than that. Let's start changing the culture of sports to represent the values of cooperation and teamwork rather than a cultural product to be exploited.

We need to challenge why McDonald's and Coca Cola are the official sponsors of the Canadian Olympic team. Does that make any sense at all? If it does, why does the Canadian Olympic team need those corporate sponsors? Why are all sports dominated by endless branding and corporate loyalty?

I love my boyhood nostalgic version of sports. I love watching the best athletes in the world compete at a sport they are passionate about. I just hate the corporate culture of privilege that they are dominated by.

Love,
Dan

*Special thanks to Dave Zirin (even though we've never met) for giving me the inspiration to write about this. I've often been in situations around left-wing friends and didn't want to admit that I like sports and also been in situations around sports friends and didn't want to admit that I was left-wing.

You can follow Dave Zirin on Twitter (@EdgeofSports) or read his articles at the Nation here: http://www.thenation.com/authors/dave-zirin

Comments

  1. Dan, can you provide some links as to how many pro sports team receive subsidies, and the magnitude of those subsidies. I would love to research. However, the economic boom sports teams give to local economies is astounding. I spent some time in Indianapolis, and the amount of of economic spin off from the construction of the Lucas Oil dome is astounding. A dead zone has been revitalized creating wealth for many local businesses such as bars, restaurants, hotels, clothing shops...etc. Many people not involved with the Colts indirectly make a living because of the Colts. Maybe as teachers, we don't understand as we are guaranteed a pay cheque courtesy of the taxpayers. We have security. If the Colts moved, many people lose their means of income.

    As teachers, maybe we shouldn't complain when we don't get a 2% pay increase. We have it better than most. If Coke or McDonalds what's to spend millions to sponsor teams, then let them. I know the scoreboard in my public school gym is sponsored by Pepsi. Public schools are not immune to corporate influence. That sponsorship is very important.

    I'm a sports fan also, but I disagree with your opinion.

    You should travel to Detroit and take a close look at what left wing management has done to that city. I took a drive there last summer, talked to the locals, and was astounded by some of the left wing policies implemented by that city's administration. We can't blame all of life's wills on corporations. People took risks and became successful. That is nothing to be envious of.

    Karl Marx was an interesting character, as was his mother.

    "If Karl, instead of writing a lot about Capital, had made a lot of Capital, it would have been much better."

    — Henrietta Marx, mother of Karl

    Jason Cantanella




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  2. Hollywood has had a much more negative impact on mankind than the sports world. But I understand that because of Hollywood's far left influence, that they are entitled to a free pass. I just had a great discussion with my class about Hollywood's left wing hypocrisy and how it is dominated by limousine socialists.

    Jason Cantanella

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