Several years ago Anita gave me a subscription to The Atlantic. It is one of the magazines that come into our house that every month I promise (and usually keep) to read at the very least the cover article. Let me say that if you don’t subscribe you need to head out and get the current issue. It really raises a few really interesting articles about American culture and our love affair/worship/obsession with sports.
In the cover article (which I have not finished yet–these are not twitter length articles. They have depth!) Amanda Ripley takes on one of our sacred cows, suggesting that our students would be better off if we took sports out of our schools and put them as truly extra-curricular activities. But that isn’t what hit me! What really caught my attention were these lines:
Athletics succeeded in distracting not just students but entire communities. As athletic fields became the cultural centers of towns across America, educators became coaches and parents became boosters.
I have to wonder–have athletic fields become the cultural centers of our communities? From a casual observation, I would have to say so! They have replaced concert halls, museums, churches. Don’t think so? Just drive by most soccer fields on Sunday morning.
Still not convinced? Flip on over in this issue of The Atlantic to see Greg Easterbrook’s love-hate exposé of the NFL and how the wealthy owners continue to fleece (his words) taxpayers. (Did you know that the NFL is a not-for-profit corporation? ) I read this the same week that the House of Representatives voted to cut $39 Billion from the program that provides food for the poorest of our neighbors. It just raised the question of priorities for me all over again.
Just asking the question can be dangerous, though, don’t you think? I mean, can you imagine a world without Friday Night Football? But what about a world without English classes?
What does this say about us?