You see things and say, “Why?” But I dream things that never were and say,
—George Bernard Shaw in Back to Methuselah
Our enormous investment in organized sport has been justified largely on the health and educational benefits to participants. Beyond the individual benefits, are the alleged societal benefits—athletics as an important socialization tool and an economic force, as well as a means of improving military preparedness.
But in the face of Nike commercialism, NCAA Final Four hype, and Dennis Rodman's changing hair colors, it is increasingly difficult to see any connection between athletics and such “higher purposes.” Sport in America has become more about money, winning, and ego than about education, sportsmanship, and ethics; more about commercialism, sneaker deals, and trash-talking than about personal development and educational opportunity; and more about being a passive spectator than an active participant. Sport is corporate sky boxes, sneaker deals, television contracts, free agency, salary caps, coaching “packages, ” academic fraud, trading-card signing shows, sports memorabilia, traveling “allstar” teams of seven-year-olds, win, win, win, sell more product—