I'm a baseball fan; specifically an Oakland A's fan (first place, baby!). I have MLB.tv so I'm able to watch occasional games of other teams and for years I've been uncomfortable with how these events have been turned into some kind of worship of the military industrial complex; military flyovers, the players being required to wear camo caps and the endless 7th inning singing of God Bless America. When did this start happening?
Howard Bryant of ESPN.com has an answer:
Six weeks after the World Trade Center attack, New York was still a broken, shaken place. That night was remarkable for its tension and anxiety and emotion, for the humanity among fans usually pushing and elbowing for their space, a humanity created by the fear of another attack, the comfort of being around other Americans. The baseball played on the field was memorable. In many ways, that night was unique for its combination of sports and uncertainty, pride and release, and it also marked the beginning of a dramatic change in American sports.And what dramatic change occurred?
The place once considered to be one refuge from the problems of the real world is now the entertainment event with the most political and militaristic overtones, and the phenomenon is not organic, but mandated and encouraged by the leagues. It is a rule in Major League Baseball on Sundays and holidays that players and coaches must be on the field for the singing of "God Bless America" during the seventh inning. The NFL and NBA, as well as the networks that broadcast games, all include some form of acknowledgement to the military.One would think it wouldn't be uncomfortable to see the military acknowledged, but it's the whole package that wears on you after a few seasons. The entire article is brilliant but it took real courage for Bryant to include this:
If the permanent inclusion of the military into sporting events is at best perilous, the addition of the police as heroes is even worse. The role of police, especially in minority communities, is hardly universally agreed upon. Yet at the ballpark teams force paying customers to approve. The nationalistic overtones, as well as the forced alignment with law enforcement and authority figures in a time of deepening concern over increased government surveillance and control domestically is more than ironic and more than a little chilling. It underscores a certain truth: Americans seem to have separated armed authority figures -- military and police -- from government when the two are always connected. It also is reminder of just how scary the world is.I'll just add that baseball and religion are also being combined to a degree that was unimaginable to me as a child watching games. I attended a Royals game in Kansas City a few years back and it was "Christian Family Day" at the stadium; I was surrounded by people wearing I heart Jesus t-shirts and had individuals passing out religious leaflets as I was getting a hot dog. The Royals played religious music between innings and had a 'witnessing' event after the game where various players talked about Jesus & etc. There was a big parade of believers with banners who marched on the field prior to the game. I'll admit that this sponsored event made me uncomfortable. I don't care about anyone's religious beliefs and I really don't need to see them paraded around the warning track.
Anyway, I had to share this article. It's long overdue.