Public Money for Stadiums
Sports Law Blog comments on the use of public money for buildings that are primarily for and will be primarily controlled by a private (and rich) company. Basically, it's horseshit that public resources finance a billion dollar industry, but the Realpolitik is that if municipalities/states don't devote some resources to buildings for professional sports teams, those teams can move to another city.
Howard Wasserman suggests public money should be tied to free speech rights inside the arena/ballpark/stadium:
"One of things driving my arguments on fan speech in publicly funded/privately operated ballparks is kind of a quid-pro-quo notion: If the private teams are going to demand large amounts of public financial support for their toys (which the team easily could pay for itself), teams must deal with unpopular or distasteful expression by the fans who are given access to the ballpark--who, after all, help pay for that ballpark. If a team is to receive this unique benefit of exclusive control over publicly owned and (largely) publicly financed property built expressly for that team, it ought to be subject to the limitations of the First Amendment in ways that private entities ordinarily are not bound."
It's a good notion, and free speech inside the arenas is just one of the concessions citizens should demand if their public money is to be used for the construction of these buildings.
Of course professional sports franchises aren't the only businesses that ask for public money. The Mall of America has "asked for $234 million in state and local subsidies" for an expansion to the mall (Wikipedia) (and as Lizabeth Cohen shows in "From Town Center to Shopping Center," you really don't have free speech rights in malls, either). Whenever a city or state must decide about whether or how to allocate funds to private industry, it must ask a few key questions. What does this industry provide the community (in terms of jobs, economy, entertainment, prestige)? What financial sacrifices must the community make to support this industry (could that money be used for schools, roads, health care, parks, libraries, the arts, or just remain in citizens' accounts)? And what will happen if the city or state chooses not to contribute (will the industry leave, and what would the consequences be)?
It's a scylla and charybdis situation, to be sure.
Vikings and Quarterback
The Vikings are still probably going after Sage Rosenfels to be a backup quarterback (Star Tribune). The Vikings still desperately need a veteran backup that can step in if Tarvaris Jackson struggles early in the season and the Vikings are losing as a result. Sage Rosenfels thrills nobody, but when you're acquiring a backup quarterback, there really aren't many names that are going to thrill anybody. A second-round pick is too high a price, but the Vikes should probably try get Rosenfels on draft day.
The Fanhouse also suggests Chris Simms is a possibility. I could live with that--he fits precisely the category of "competent backup with upside to start if necessary."
Of course, there's still somebody out there available. Somebody we know well. Somebody that was quoting Gandhi last summer, so maybe he's interested in peace and reconciliation. But probably not.
Bring on the #1 seeds!
I'm one of those heathens that is not remotely disappointed that there's no Cinderella in the Final Four and that all the #1 seeds are in the Final Four. In any sport, upsets are fun. They remind us that the games really are competitive and that we watch sports because either team can win. But generally, upsets are brief fun while they last, but they rob us of later great games (not always--it can be really fun when an underdog takes it to the championship game and even wins the sucker. Upset champions really do remind us that every team in the playoffs has a chance, and why the end of the season playoff race matters, too).
But look what we have now! The juggernauts all have to beat each other. They should be outstanding games, featuring outstanding teams and outstanding players. That's what I want in a basketball game.
On the controversial Vogue cover
When I first saw the cover image of LeBron and Gisele, the idea of racism did not even enter my mind. When I first heard people suggesting the racist connotations of the cover, I thought "Really? Isn't that a bit of a stretch?" But as I've read more and more people sensing that racism, and as I've read more and more black writers discussing the cover, I feel more compelled to accept that point of view. We have a completely poisoned history of race in this country--no sane person can deny that. That poisoned history includes the negative manipulation of images of black people. If black individuals look at that cover and are reminded of old racist stereotypes and are offended at the image being presented, it's not my place to deny and dismiss their objections. I want to listen seriously to their objections, and I want to understand why such an image does connote racism for so many people.
The NFL Draft and Language
I have paid almost no attention at all to the NFL draft yet. I think I've reached the point in life when I don't want to speculate about what is going to happen with a bunch of players I've never seen play (not that there's anything wrong with that). I'll have just as much fun watching the draft and learning about the players that day (after all, there's plenty of time between picks to be learning about these players).
Soon I'll start paying attention to articles about the draft, though. I'm always ready to look for the big overused cliches that emerge around draft time.
It's been over two years since I arbitrarily decided I needed a college in sports to root for and chose UCLA. This was probably the peak of my life of calling myself an existentialist (I don't anymore).
This is the year I'm going to arbitrarily start following baseball. Should be fun. It may even give me something to write about on this blog all summer besides fantasy football and dog fighting controversies.
Here's what I'm hoping: baseball can be a nice, casual thing to have on in the background while I'm playing with my son, or reading a book.
The NBA Western Conference
It looks nine teams in the West have separated themselves into three groups: the three teams fighting for the #7 and #8 spots (Denver, Dallas, and Golden State), Utah (locked into that #4 spot pretty well, it seems), and the other five teams fighting for seeds 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 (Hornets, Spurs, Lakers, Suns, Rockets). This is all very exciting: read more about the recent goings on at SLAM.