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Sport as Art and other Meanderings

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I begin writing this on Thanksgiving day.  This is the day that Americans give thanks for all God has blessed us with.

It has taken me a little while to get my intestinal fortitude together to do this after the early November elections here in the US.  Sorry to take so long, but my heart has not been in much of anything, even what I wanted to say… which I will say later.

But first:

The elections came back as a total repudiation of all that we had accomplished over two years and any advancement as  a society we had gained.  It was not that it was not predicted, it was, but seeing the results the next morning in black and white, sober again ( I joke), was a bit harsh.  We as a nation chose overwhelmingly to go back to a lot of failed policies and turn our backs on the least of our brethren and fellow citizens.  Whether it was finance reform, which began the control of rich greedy banks, the same ones that brought down the world economy, and the same ones that screw the average consumer here every day; or health insurance reform which seeks to give the poor the same care as the rich– well we decided, poor and rich alike, as voters, that good was hog wash and it was time to give the wealthy back the government.  And that is what we did.

The final outcome and instrument of design:  If you can divide the masses by race and ideology and economic level, conceal the intent and power behind the politic; if you can own a huge media segment that does not have to adhere to any journalistic integrity… well friends, you can do about anything.  You can even say black is white and the sky is purple, and no one will have the courage to deny.

Moral:  The intellectually competent that read this blog/e-magazine must have the personal integrity to risk themselves and some position when they see that this type of mass mind management is underway in their own country.  The idiots will be hard to convince; but if one stands by from the beginning, if one says it won’t happen, says our movement is too strong or too convincing, then you will die by the same pen and the press and the products of disinformation that you seek to delineate for others.  The righteous will be crucified in the court of public opinion, and wrong and greed will triumph.  Your nation is emerging, you have immense people and resource potential in place.  Seize the portion of media and public opinion you can control.  If you stand buy now, later it is too late.  Be proactive and righteous and truthful… believe as well.  It may control your destiny.  It will control your own personal outcomes.

Finally:

My thoughts on sport as art, or how did this ever get so messed up?  Take your pick.

My school, University of Missouri, has just completed another reasonably successful season of American football.  We stand 10-2, ranked 12th in the nation, and should get a nice “Bowl Game”, the ultimate prize for a school to have as a player and fan reward, accomplished at a nice warm place New Years Day on national TV.  Wow, what a perfect  treat for a 20-22 year old young man, amateur, who is called a student athlete.  I bet you have something like this as well there in South Africa.  Now the dark side.

These young men are often paid to play and the schools themselves benefit handsomely from the toil of same.  It takes 20 million dollars to put the Mizzou Tigers on the field every year.  The coach makes three million and he better win,or he is a goner.  It is a saprophytic relationship, school and player, and in the mean time, the best of them will sign upon graduation, a contract that pays 10-20 million dollars to play professionally.  How does a game, a team sport that is played in back yards and sand lots all across America, ( and lest we forget baseball and basketball and even hockey and soccer) become so prostituted?

It begins a past time as we say here, for most that play.  A great molding arena for high school kids admiring the camaraderie of sport and producing the union of a student body.    It is played at pee wee level, and for blood, yes that is the gladiator mentality that makes it special.  The social aspect binds many, for sport is a community event.  It is fun, it brings out the best in many.  It is sport.. it is part of life.

It is art as well.  That is the only plausible explanation for why we watch it at higher levels, levels of ability far above common athletic prowess, played by strong and fast young men that train in million dollar facilities to get “ bigger, faster, stronger”:  To be beautiful and perfect in execution on the field of combat.  I could never, even though I was once a decent high school athlete, compete at the levels that draw national interest… so I watch, for I admire it as the art that it is.  At that level it is pure and rewarding for the viewer and the same for the few that can achieve at that level.  It is as an aria well sung, or a painting that delivers the artist’s soul.

So why have we allowed this to get so messed up?  Why has a player that chose to harm and maim dogs, to make them fight to die, why has he been allowed to come back from prison ( we do have laws) and is now once again a star, making 12 million a year?  Why have we over and over here in the US seen our sports idols be proven to be drug abusers, using meds to enhance performance and make them worth more… bigger … faster… stronger.

Is this still art, is it still beauty, and grace and the perfection of athleticism for that sake alone?  No, it no longer is, at least here.  It is sick and degrading.  It is not art, it is prostitution of the worst order.  And that comes to my moral:  what does this say to that young boy playing hour after hour in his back yard, dreaming of perfection, of admiration… of being a star?  What values does he take away?  Are they the right ones?  What does this say to the young South African, alone, working on his soccer skills, dreaming… dreaming of perfection and reward?  But is it commensurate reward to others in society and  is it pure and just and proper?

Sport not performed as a personal experience, but viewed, is art by definition. It is the epitome of perfection… as close as a man can come in may instances… the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat.  The stage of performance on the very edge.  That is all it can be in its pure form.  But greed and corruption can transform anything into putrefaction.  And as long as we reward and glorify and allow this to continue, we pay the price here as a nation, and as a society.  When one baseball pitcher, a great one, ‘a hall of famer’, then in his prime is paid 10,000 dollars for every pitch he makes in a game while people at home may not have enough to eat, and poor kids can never afford the price to see him in person… we have a problem and a moral imperative arises.  Remember that as you guild your heroes.  Is it worth it?  When is it no longer art?  When do you change it?  Will you?

Til we meet again,

George Bailey DDS MPH

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