sports vs. common sense
As a lead-in, let me briefly recount the situation at my alma mater in the years during and surrounding my attendance--and I don't figure much has changed--with regard to funding of athletics. The engineering department could barely get funding to keep its programs reasonably modern, the campus was hurting for more and better dorms, parking and commuting were terrible due to hilariously poor planning and infrastructure, and on and on. Yet the athletic department had more money than it knew what to do with. Football stadium expansion? New baseball stadium? New track stadium? New practice facilities? Coaches' salaries that make inflation look flat? Sure! And all because the program had boosters lined up that forked over hefty sums of cash to help fund such exploits. In other words, the athletic department was not balancing its budget on its own via ticket/merchandise sales or whatever; were that the case then there would be no complaint. But it was getting huge infusions of cash from rich alumni and folks in the state--who were choosing sports over the future viability of the school as an educational institution with every dollar they donated.
Well, seems we weren't as unlike Los Angeles as we might have thought back in the day in flyover country. Now I have nothing against the idea of a victory parade to celebrate a championship, but...people are forking over big money in "donations" for a sports parade? Really? That's the best "cause" they can come up with to give hundreds of thousands of dollars to? The article even talks about all the troubles the city of Los Angeles is having--unemployment is at 12.5%, the school district is underwater big time, homes are being foreclosed on, etc., etc. Even if those causes aren't at the top of one's list, surely they're ahead of enabling a basketball championship party, right? Call me cynical, but something just doesn't seem right about that whole picture.
Some priceless quotes from Mayor Villaraigosa:
"We're going to come together as a city at a time when we need to come together. The reason why so many people from the private sector came forward is because they know this town deserves to revel in itself for a day. We need it."
"At a time in the city when the unemployment rate is at 12.5 percent, when 21,000 people have lost their homes due to foreclosure, it's important for us to celebrate this great day. It's a victory for us, for the fans."
"If I declared a day off, I'd get beat up for that. People are going to take off whether I declare a day off or not. Some will say they were sick, others will take vacations. Still others don't have a job and will be there."
Okay, I gotta give him humor points for the last one. But the first two? They "need" it? It's "important" to celebrate "this great day" by throwing loads of money at it? I would say the guy must have Hollywood screenwriters doing his prep work for him, but I'm not sure they could even come up with stuff that fun to read.
And you can really see that 60s-era liberal feel-good-ism in full force there: "Huh? Never mind that there's some major change and upheaval going on that we need to plan for and ride out. Never mind that there are front-and-center problems that demand whatever effort and resources we can come up with. What we really need is to just all come together and celebrate and just feel good about ourselves for a while. 'Cause nothing beats reality like a quick emotional high. Yeah, that's the ticket!"
And, as usual here, a political twist: apparently the government's failure to prioritize has trickled down to its citizens. If that's the case then here's a PSA to Californy folks: All hope has officially been lost. Get out. And if you're in the greater L.A. area tomorrow then arm yourself or hide someplace safe, because we all know that when large crowds of excited people gather on L.A. streets the result usually isn't pleasant and wonderful. (Unrelated aside: I'm shocked that Barack rebuffed Cali's first swipe at bailout cash, but I'm sure we haven't even heard the end of the beginning of the begging yet. I mean, they haven't even played up the "for the children" angle yet.)