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To Save Freedom, Defund Pro Sports

In the last few years, the “Defund the Police” cry has reverberated through many of our cities. The police are not serving our communities, we’re told, and they’re wasting taxpayer money on ineffective services and driving racism. “It’s time to get rid of them,” many yell.

They’re barking up the wrong tree. If the public wants to defund something that’s wasting money and not serving the community, then they should look toward pro sports and defund them.

I grew up playing football and idolizing the Steelers. I even played college ball for a year on a small scholarship. During those years, my coaches told stories of Steelers center Mike Webster, holding him up as an example to all of us aspiring athletes.

Webby died like a stray dog in the street in 2002, becoming a cultural symbol of the brain trauma caused by pro football. Years after his death, his family was still fighting for a settlement from the NFL over the chronic traumatic encephalopathy he incurred while bringing fame and fortune to Steelers owner Art Rooney II.

Indeed, pro sports team owners like Rooney are just some of the robber barons of this age, although their greed makes Industrial Age billionaires like Andrew Carnegie look kind in comparison. Football barons threaten to take their teams elsewhere, goading local governments into donating millions for their stadiums without guaranteeing their teams will stay in perpetuity. The public is left with no ownership stakes, even though they paid most of the stadium costs for the team.

Teams founded in the early 20th century mimicking the hardworking ethos of their towns now don’t reflect the people, nor do they benefit them (many of whom cannot even afford tickets to the games). Instead, they encourage degenerate behavior by holding up oft-misbehaving players as role models.

Pro sports marketing has concocted a faux religion—the Church of the Gridiron—in an increasingly disbelieving age, replacing true belief and virtues with now oft-praised vices of pride, selfishness, and self-aggrandizement. They inculcate hero-worship for profit, with vestments worn and rituals performed by fans genuflecting to their gods on game days, even though such adulation is damaging to those who engage in it.

These teams also tacitly encourage the abuse of legal and illegal drugs, such as amphetamines, painkillers, and steroids. Long in use by pro sports players, most just look the other way these days, shrugging as their heroes shoot up and ruin their lives through substance abuse.

The pro sports industry also encourages gambling—both legal and illegal. Online gambling has exploded in popularity since the Supreme Court put its stamp of approval on it. Billions are squandered each year by gamblers legally betting for the rush of a momentary win amid a pile of losses, causing many to lose their savings, homes, and families because of their additions. Illegal gambling, meanwhile, enriches organized crime, and the bookies are laughing all the way to the bank, thanks to taxpayers’ obliviousness.

Sports are also now dividing our people along racial lines, thanks to team owners catering to the views of many of their athletes. Rather than being thankful to live where athletes with an eighth grade reading comprehension can become multimillionaires simply because they can run fast or catch a ball, sports heroes across America turned their backs on the police and the government, blaming all white people for the problems of criminals like George Floyd.

Pro sports also have little room for alternative thought, as evidenced by the Steelers’ Rooney, who recently slapped St. Vincent College for allowing Hillsdale Professor David Azzerad to give a speech on “Black Privilege.” So much for freedom of speech.

Enough of this evil. Before we demand the defunding of police, we should consider defunding pro sports, starting with pro football. And while we’re at it, perhaps we should make the team owners (and some players, too) pay reparations to the cities they’ve bilked.

Image Credit: Flickr-Steel City Hobbies, CC BY 2.0

Jonathan Barnes
Jonathan Barnes

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  • Avatar
    August 26, 2022, 11:13 pm

    Yeah, you lost me when you compared them to the "Robber Barons" of days gone by. They (such as Carnegie) were neither robbers NOR barons, unlike the scum involved in pro sports leagues who are, in fact, robbers. The robber Barons of old got wealthy through offering good and services people wanted, not by stealing tax dollars.

    • Avatar
      David castlen @JoeD
      August 31, 2022, 5:02 pm

      Yes, a great read Is Tom Wood’s writings in the Robber Barton’s, which were neither robbers or Barron but provide good much much cheaper than ever thought possible …. Must read Rockefeller …0

  • Avatar
    Dan Riser
    August 26, 2022, 11:30 pm

    Yet another reason to not wear my Steeler garb and banish them from my watching. All pro sports are woke and I will not participate.

  • Avatar
    August 27, 2022, 12:15 am

    Fantastic article and ideas that I will share

    Sadly sir you realize there are far too many facts here to a tube believed!!

    Great writing

    • Avatar
      JB @Ranger
      November 15, 2022, 5:19 pm

      Thanks for reading and commenting folks! … Somewhere in Heaven Cotton Mather is shaking his head: “They called me Jonathan Barnes!” I bet he is saying.

  • Avatar
    Kalikiano Kalei
    August 27, 2022, 12:15 am

    I for one am in total agreement with your expressed opinions, per the above. I’ve also been an enthusiastic supporter of sports for decades, but rather ‘individual’ sports wherein athletes compete against themselves or the clock, rather than on a team that plays others. Admittedly, that may or may not have any relevancy here, since it’s a personal matter of choice, but like almost every aspect of our perversely materialistic way of life, American "professional" sports are solely about money…great big gobs of money…and are quickly subsumed in the unholy feeding frenzy for big profits. In that process, whatever ethics and archetypal principles of sportsmanship are invariably lost in the shuffle as owners (and players) dream of obscene personal fortunes. In a nation such as ours wherein people with serious mental and substance abuse issues live in the streets, unable to obtain medical support for their various afflictions, pro sports team players making annual salaries of multiple millions of dollars are nothing short of an obscenity! Especially so when they become pop-culture ‘celebrities’ whose talent usually consists of tossing a leather ball though a hoop!

    Regrettably, while most Americans are not deep thinkers and never question the functional dynamics or aesthetics of their favorite sports, "professional" sports teams elevate the worst aspects of this sort of Philistine selfishness, egoism and ‘celebrity culture’ to new heights of censure.

    One of the great failures of our modern nation lies in totally abandoning the many and varied highest ideals of our great Western heritage (yes, that so-called ‘Evil White Culture’ that misguided proponents of garbage theories like CRT so brainlessly espouse) and sadly, most of these great ethical aspirations of the ancient Greek tradition are completely subsumed and dissipated by the mercantile greed that permeates just about every nuance of our modern, contemporary American culture. Professional sports figure substantially in that process of turning what should be a pleasurable human interactions into bloated cash-cows, a characteristic which we Americans are so famous for in our unique social expression of capitalism.

    Sadly, though, until we are able to welcome more ‘ordinary Americans’ to the ranks of critical thinkers and acutely reflective intellects, it’s very unlikely that the present adulation of grossly over-adulated and celebrated pro sports teams (and individual players) will ever be deflected and reconfigured into a more widely beneficial form of public enthusiasm. Given the fact that higher American education is now roughly on par with what middle-schools used to turn out, 50 years ago, I think it unlikely that the deplorable (if I may borrow your favorite term, here, Hillary…) reflective intelligence that characterises so much of the hoi polloi herd will be able to make much of an impact on reversing the present status quo.

    Instead of players ‘taking the knee’ at pro sports gladiatorial battles on the scrimmage line, why not encourage ‘taking a brain’, instead?

    Sports are an important part of any normal human life but only if they exemplify our highest and most noble social values (NOT the ‘garbage’ ideals and perverse distortions of reality so common to the radical progressive liberal left, these days). When a season ticket to one’s favorite pro sports team exceeds several thousand dollars, it’s time to gather up the pikes and head to the barricades, in my opinion!

    • Avatar
      JB@Kalikiano Kalei
      November 15, 2022, 11:06 pm

      Kalikiano I must say I enjoy your writing and thoughts! Thanks

  • Avatar
    Margaret Owen Thorpe
    August 27, 2022, 3:47 am

    I see that Cotton Mather is alive and well and traveling under the name Jonathan Barnes! Let neither sport nor profit sully the purity of our grimness. C’mon, how about the Green Bay Packers who are owned by the community and the citizens bequeath their season tickets to their heirs in their wills? The Packers seem to do pretty well against the greedy profitmaking heathens.

    • Avatar
      Eve Pfitzinger@Margaret Owen Thorpe
      August 28, 2022, 11:24 am

      Our Packers (I’m from Green Bay) are an exception in many ways, but not all. Because they are part of the NFL, they still must follow some of the "woke" garbage that infests sports these days.

    • Avatar
      Brian Crocker@Margaret Owen Thorpe
      August 30, 2022, 9:13 pm

      I chuckle when I hear that the "community" owns the Packers. That organization – probably alone among the NFL – bilked their fans out of money by selling them "Shareholder" pieces of paper that aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on: no voting rights (even by proxy), no stake in profits (as if!); nothing. And people gobbled them up. 8th grade thinking indeed.


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