Professional Sports = Passion of Decadence
1 November 2010, The San Francisco Giants won the World Series, and in addition to the tens of thousands of fans in the stadium, an estimated 12 million people watched the game on TV (not counting the millions watching in sports bars, restaurants and other public venues). As in other winning cities in years past, the city of the winning team erupted into “joyful mayhem,” as the San Francisco Chronicle calls it, with tens of thousands of people taking to the streets in drunken celebration that included property destruction, traffic disruption, and violence.
In classic bourgeois press form, pretending neutrality, the SF Chronicle’s headline article today was titled “SF Giants Series Celebration is Joyful Mayhem” and stated: “On Market Street, the celebration quickly turned wild and unruly, with an estimated 7,000 revelers in the streets, some jumping on cars, rocking Muni buses, tossing beer bottles, lighting fireworks and blocking traffic at Seventh Street.” A much smaller article, hidden on the Chronicle website, also mentioned “In the Mission, there have been reports of fires, broken windows and an alleged stabbing.” Compare this with the same newspaper’s January 8, 2009 report on the Oscar Grant protests. The article was titled “Protests Over BART Shooting Turn Violent” and gave a negative review of the protest which “mushroomed into several hours of violence Wednesday night as demonstrators smashed storefronts and cars, set several cars ablaze and blocked streets.”
We see that the same street violence is condoned when it’s in the name of professional sports. Police wandering the streets after the World Series were friendly, often clapping and cheering, and shutting down streets to help out traffic while enabling the celebration. During the Oscar Grant protest the cops showed up in riot gear and attacked the crowd.
While we’re no fans of imperialist elections, the World Series victory happened the night before election day and begs the comparison: people are more passionate about baseball than they are about the political future of their country/state/city. This is no surprise to those of us familiar with the decadence of Amerikan imperialism. Amerikans don’t need to worry about politics – the government is working in their interests to secure resources at the expense of Third World peoples to maintain wealth at home.
Sports passion includes a remarkable number of fans cheering “we did it!” and “we won!” as if they had anything to do with the team that won the game. In reality the SF Giants, like all professional sports teams, are made up of players from across the country, who are paid a ridiculous amount of money to wear a jersey for this team. Their allegiance to the city lasts only as long as the paycheck continues. In fact people point to statistics about the Giants' last World Series victory 56 years ago when they were based in New York as if that team had something more in common with the SF Giants than the font they use for their logo.
MIM(Prisons) would like to take all the sports passion in Amerika and turn it against imperialist violence or world hunger. We’d even call it progress if people get off the couch and play sports rather than get drunk watching millionaires play. Perhaps the improved circulation would help people think a bit more rationally about politics and the relative importance of professional sports.