It doesn't happen very often but every now and then I'll ask myself why I care so much about sports. How come after the SF Giants blew a 5-0 lead in game 6 of the World Series back in 2002 did it feel like someone had punched me in the gut? Why did I go to bed that night fantasizing about tearing that stupid rally monkey apart, limb from scrawny limb? In 2010 why did it feel like I was taking large amounts of oxycontin after the Giants won the World Series and for an entire week walked around in a happy state of bliss with a stupid smile on my face? How come I was so euphoric after Vernon Davis caught the game winning TD against the Saints, but wanted to curl up into a ball and make the bad man go away only a week later after 2 Kyle Williams fumbles cost the 49ers the game against the NY Giants?
I like to think I'm a reasonable, logical, and rational person. When I hear stories that Obama care will have a death panel as part of it so they can decide which people are valuable enough to receive care and who should just be allowed to die, I want to know what they're basing that on. If someone tells me they won't immunize their children because they heard Jenny McCarthy say on Oprah that it causes autism, I ask for the scientific study that backs up their claim.
But when it comes to sports I'm completely irrational. I won't get a raise at work if the 49ers win the Super Bowl. My wife won't suddenly want to rip my clothes off every night because the Sharks held up the Stanley Cup. I won't have the body of a 20 year old again if the Giants win the World Series. In short, nothing in my life will change simply because a team I like has won it all. Yet I am considerably happier when they do win, and the more important the game, the bigger the high. Unfortunately the opposite is also true.
I suppose in a way sports really are like drugs. They can give you an enormous high and for a lot of people are incredibly addicting, but they also can give you horrible lows and cost a lot of money. I doubt anyone has ever sold their body on the street so they can feed their sports addiction, but if I knew doing that would ensure the 49ers would win 5 of the next 10 Super Bowls I would probably give it some serious consideration.
More after the jump...
However not everyone is a sports fan. For the longest time my wife thought I was just pretending to like sports because most guys do. She didn't understand how I could be on my knees pleading with someone on my TV to kick an oblong shaped ball through two posts but would be completely unconcerned if our son wasn't back yet even though he was supposed to be home 20 minutes ago. And I'm hardly unique.
There are plenty of people who are just as fanatical about sports as I am, some of whom are even worse than me. Going to a game in winter shirtless and covered in body paint doesn't seem like a great idea to me, unless you're just hoping you'll be able to call in sick to work on Monday.
There are also those who like sports but only take a passive interest in it. "How nice, the 49ers made it to the NFC Championship game. By the way, you didn't happen to Tivo ‘Celebrity Apprentice' did you?"
So what does this have to do with anything? I'm sure some are thinking right now,
Great, some people like sports and some people don't. Thanks for the deep insight. I suppose next you're going to tell us that some people like to read and some don't. Or that some people think Diet Dr Pepper really does taste more like real Dr Pepper and those that don't.
The point is to show why voters often times approve the use of taxpayer money for the construction or remodeling of stadiums. Just recently the Vikings got the approval of building a new stadium with just over half of the money coming from the taxpayers.
Those who oppose the use of taxpayer money will point out that the economic impact of a new stadium is about the same as if they had built a new Wal Mart, and you don't hear people arguing for taxpayers to help build Wal Mart. Since the NFL is a business, the billionaire owners should pay for their own stadium since they're the ones who are benefitting the most.
What's forgotten in this are the nonmonetary reasons fans are willing to subsidize new construction. Cities use taxpayer money all the time in building things that are for the improvement of the quality of life. Libraries, museums, parks, jogging and biking trails, zoos, and botanical gardens are just a few of the things taxpayer money is used for. Even though not everyone in a city will use its library, it's still there as a public good.
There are also plenty of examples of taxpayer money being used for economic development. Maybe the downtown area or business district will be improved through the use of taxpayer money in an effort to bring in new businesses. In my own city they leveled a park, built a new nicer park a block over, and that opened up room for Cosco to build a new store where the old park used to be. Cosco didn't pay to have the old park destroyed or the new one built, but they did benefit from it and it was all paid by taxpayers.
For someone who doesn't like sports it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. As far as they're concerned the stadium is a nuisance, especially if they live nearby and have to deal with traffic every time there's a game. But plenty of people do care and feel it adds to their quality of life, even if they never actually go to the stadium themselves.
If Wal Mart has a record breaking quarterly return, only the shareholders will really care. No one will be dancing in the street or setting fire to cars. There will be no parade or record breaking quarterly return T-shirts made or dvds chronicling their financial windfall. But if the home team wins a championship you'll see all those things. It may be irrational and not make a lot of sense, and it probably won't have any real lasting impact on their life, but that won't stop people from caring about it or feeling their quality of life is better.
Just think how much taxpayer money is wasted every 4th of July on fireworks displays, and none of them have gotten me a raise or more action with my wife. So if you don't like sports and don't get why people do, it's OK. The first step is to realise you don't get it. Once you realise you don't get it, that's when you'll get it.