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Discussing sports, Noam Chomsky once remarked: "Take, say, sports -- that's another crucial example of the indoctrination system, in my view. For one thing because it -- you know, it offers people something to pay attention to that's of no importance. That keeps them from worrying about -- keeps them from worrying about things that matter to their lives that they might have some idea of doing something about. And in fact it's striking to see the intelligence that's used by ordinary people in sports."

Perhaps he has a point. When the masses (mostly men) are screaming during their favorite games and proudly wearing their tribal makeup and gear, they aren't focused on other worldly problems (e.g., war, torture, injustice). The Roman poet Juvenal referred to it as "bread and circuses." Maybe it's better to funnel people's nationalistic tendencies into sports as they are then less prone to vent against the government.

But, let's face it: sports can be very exciting. Sports requires great physical skills. And sports are all about competition, which seems to be in-line with our competitive natures. But how much competition is there really in sports? For example, many sports have a draft each year when teams take turns selecting players from a pool of candidates. "When a team selects a player, the team receives exclusive rights to sign that player to a contract, and no other team in the league may sign the player." Hmmm... well that's not very competitive. Sports typically also have a salary cap, which puts a limit on how much a team can spend on salaries. Price ceilings certainly aren't competitive either.

One of the ideas behind both the draft and salary caps is that the league is trying to level the playing field among teams. Contrast this with capitalism which, by definition, is without government regulations (i.e., people can make whatever agreements they want as long as they don't initiate force). And let's not forget about all of the financial subsidies and support teams receive from the government in our mixed economy. That's certainly not something that would occur in a laissez-faire/capitalistic society.

Do you think professional sports are socialistic? Are there too many teams in sports? What do you think would happen if drafts, salary caps, and government support were removed from sports?

So how is football socialist?

Sports leagues (not just football) realized a long time ago that there had to be rules limiting the "free market" of sports teams. If big or rich cities were allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money then they could hire the best players and the best coaches, do the most training, and they would most likely win most (if not all) of the time. What a dull sport that would be, with the same teams winning game after game, year after year. The losing teams would become even less popular, would lose money, which would make them get even worse, and they would lose even more. Games would be completely boring. The sport would likely die.

So in America, where we believe in free markets, each year the losing teams are given first draft picks for the new players. What kind of system rewards the worst teams and penalizes the winners? Isn't that socialism? Not only that, but each team has a salary cap, which limits how much they can pay for players. All teams (win or lose) have the same limit on the amount of money they can spend. Oppressive regulations!!! And all television revenue is shared equally with all teams, regardless of how much that team generates ("each according to their need"). Even more socialism!!!

Why do they do that? Because as any sports fan knows, the whole point of a vibrant sport is good competition. That means that every team has to have the same inherent chances, an equal opportunity to succeed. It isn't survival of the strongest that makes the game strong, it is having good competition.

Even more ironic, one of the best teams in football are the Green Bay Packers, who have won more NFL championships than any other team. How do they do this? Do they pay their players more? No! In fact, they have the lowest median salary in the NFL. Do they represent a big city? No! Green Bay (population 100,000) is the smallest city to have a major league football team. Their games always fill their stadium (which can hold 70% of the entire city population) and they have a waiting list for season tickets that could more than fill another stadium just as large.

So how do they do it? Most people don't realize this, but the Green Bay Packers are a non-profit community-owned organization. You can buy stock in them, but it does not pay dividends, and it never increases in value. It is a worthless investment, and yet they have 112,000 shareholders (more than the population of Green Bay).

In other words, the Green Bay Packers are socialists (maybe even communists). As conservatives keep telling us, socialism never works and will destroy our economy. And yet the Green Bay Packers are consistently one of the top ten revenue generating teams in the NFL (so the socialists are supporting the capitalist teams!). According to the conservatives, taxing the successful and supporting the unsuccessful will destroy the incentive to win.

Super Bowl Socialism


Original posting by Braincrave Second Life staff on Apr 24, 2011 at http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=537

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