A blog article by Bonniejean Alford (Educator, Activist, World Citizen)
I love Baseball. My husband doesn’t believe me, but I do.
Well, maybe the truth is that I once loved Baseball.
There was a time when I lived for the sport, collecting Baseball cards for the best players and watching every game. But something has changed in the way Baseball, as well as other sports, do their business.
And in that statement lies the answer, it has become a business.
This isn’t to say that when Mr. Wrigley ran the Cubs and named Wrigley field there wasn’t a focus on making money. There most definitely was.
But the sport was a past-time. It was something people did because they loved it and not to make that multi-million dollar salary that is so commonly expected today. There was a time when players joined a team and were loyal to that team for the duration of their career without jumping from team to team for the highest payout. Trading players was a big deal back in the day and very rarely done and only at the discretion of the team and not the player.
This, of course, was before my time.
In my youth, however, I remember team loyalty. I remember players sticking it out. This was the time when “free agency” was still a fairly new thing. Now, it is common practice to play only for the highest bidder. Players don’t have team loyalty, let alone fan loyalty. It is only about branding them for the win. And if they don’t win, they have to find the commercial value in the battle to win.
America’s past-time is no longer fun. How can I love a sport that puts profits above loyalty? How can I admire players that are concerned more with their paycheck then the sport and its fans?
What made it fun when I was a kid was watching people who enjoyed something do that thing for the world to see. Now you see guys who will admit that they don’t enjoy playing Baseball at all, they just happen to be good at it so why not make millions of dollars.
I recall learning about the women’s baseball league after I saw the film “A League of Their Own” which was made to commemorate the league. These women loved the sport so much that they wore short skirts and dealt with further sexualization of women just to be able to play in an arena that was viewed by the masses rather than merely in the small towns across America. This is what the sport is supposed to be about. The love for the game and the competition to be the best at the sport you play.
While Wrigley may have been one of the first to commercialize his team (Wrigley gum) it really was not about that. It was about a man named Wrigley who loved a sport so much he put his name on their ball park. He just happened to also sell gum. Today’s trend of sponsorship and blatant commercialism is sickening and takes away from the joy of the sport. I will always be a Baseball fan, and I will always have my teams of preference, to which I will always be loyal, but I don’t have to like the entity that the arena of sports has become.