Friday, November 1, 2013

Celebrity, escapism, and how sports worship has replaced religion and community and environmental work

Celebrity, escapism, and how sports worship has replaced religion and community and environmental work

Congratulations to my friends who are Red Sox fans. it is well known that I am not into organized sports. I believe it is a money making business that makes the rich richer with the box seats and expensive cable etc and the poor poorer who cannot afford to go to games and pay the highest prices in baseball. when the voting rates for the mayoral race which will directly affect fans' lives (and is the first one in decades in Boston) goes over 30 percent, then I will be impressed with the boston electorate that does not miss a game.

I do accept that I live in a culture where celebrities and athletes rule, and people have a great need for constant entertainment. But I strongly believe that worship of sports has replaced religion. Churches and synagogues are suffering to stay viable, yet Fenway is sold out every night. I just learned that sadly, three of the largest synagogues in Newton are in talks about merging due to lack of attendance and support. my ancestors were not massacred for their religion so that their descendants could forsake it.

And Boston is the most rabid of any sports city. When the Giants beat the Patriots in 2012, I happened to see a New York Times and the Giants' victory was a small item on the front page. yet in the Boston Globe and the Herald, the Patriots' loss took up half the front page.

The victory should not be tied in with the marathon bombing. It will not replace the amputated limbs on the tragic victims of that horror. swearing proudly in front of kids about the city will not do anything to erace the terrible events of that day or make anybody's personal lives better. It will just make them poorer.

This world is facing an environmental crisis the likes of which nobody has a clue about. the gap between the rich and poor is more than ever in history especially in Boston. I don't see people working toward these easy to work on problems. but they know every sports statistic and don't miss any part of it and it's all they talk about everywhere I go. The rest of the paper is discarded on all the tables in coffee shops unread. people are too in need of constant entertainment.

Today at 3, I will be part of a conference call with Gina McCarthy, the head of the EPA. I am so honored to be part of it and believe me I did not do much to be included - just some environmental projects - anybody could have been.

I am not the only one who feels this way. At Symphony Hall the other night I heard many people saying they did not care about missing any games. As many know, Governor Patrick, who was there, is not a sports fan at all. and I have many friends who could care less about organized sports - spectator sports I should point out - worship.

Well I have had my say on my own page. Once again I do congratulate those for whom baseball is such an important part of their daily existence..

Jonathan Weiner, Edward S. Gault, Paul Murphy and 4 others like this.

Su Red I agree with what you're saying. I'm happy they won, it's a nice victory that's been a long wait. But I am not into the way celebs and athletes make so much money

Phyllis Werlin I had to edit this. A lot of us enjoy sports and know it's place as entertainment. Private entities are always going to make more money than non profit ones. However, I don't think that laying a guilt trip on sports fans is fair. Robert Kraft is Jewish and attends services in Newton. He raises money for all sorts of causes, as do may other players. We celebrate the teamwork, and community spirit - the ones who do good work, not the ones who live lavish lifestyles and act like children. If someone wants to spend $3000 on a ticket, fine... some people spend $3000 on a handbag. I wouldn't, but it's a free country.
And the music industry is no different. I feel the same way when I want to go see a band perform and tickets are $75. Music is a huge corporate entity - Live Nation owns most of the venues and has the bands in their pocket. I assume you do know that my my brother in law produces a sports show that has been on the radio for over 20 years and that he is a knowledgeable and thoughtful sports fan?

Susie Davidson Brookline Ma I know he is I am still friends with him. I don't go to the $75 multi million megastar concerts. The ones I go to are underrated bands that don't have the following that they should and I pay maybe $10. but try to get a $10 seat anywhere at Fenway I don't think so. and now here comes today's report of the eight million requested in tax breaks for Fenway development that we taxpayers will be footing. but most don't care while they refuse to pay taxes to fix the road or make public transportation better to reduce the amount of SUVs clogging the atmosphere. did anyone read last week's report that air pollution is the proven highest cause of cancer there is? Oh I didn't think so but what was that batting average in 1986 again?

Phyllis Werlin But ranting and making sports fans feel badly isn't productive. I just can't say this enough. Sorry.

Peter Choyce red who? Red foxx?

Susie Davidson Brookline Ma Who's paying? You are!

Fenway Center developer seeks city tax breaks - The Boston

The developer of Boston’s ambitious Fenway Center development is seeking $7.8 million in city tax breaks to proceed with construction, saying the $500 million mega project could fall apart without urgent public assistance. John Rosenthal said the project’s ability to generate sufficient returns has…

Peter Choyce what are they? THe catholic chrurch?

22 hours ago · Like

Susie Davidson Brookline Mathese days, Peter they are. Every one of them a worshipful Saint deciding who goes to heaven. Phyllis, I am not ranting to make people feel bad. I am expressing what I feel to be the truth about the bigger and more important things that are affecting us in life. I care about the poor and the planet above all else, and I don't need constant entertainment in my life. I have plenty of interests that I love, but they do not overtake my existence.

Eric Stanway Sports are overrated. people get all worked up about other people who make zillions more than they make, and get some satisfaction out of it. It's understandable -- it takes their minds of their own little sad grey lives.

21 hours ago · Unlike · 2

Arthur Port It gets tiresome listening to your ranting for wrong causes most of the time. You attack the wrong people. You're always putting down people with SUV's. I have a CRV that gets more mpg than most cars on the road today.

21 hours ago · Like

Susie Davidson Brookline Ma I do not condone Patrick's Cadillac which she said was not his decision at that time, or Al Gore's energy expenditures. I know Bill McKibben walks the walk. As does everyone in the groups that I am in. but most importantly for myself. I carry recycling with me everywhere. I have to answer to myself before anyone else. my Prius gets 50 miles per gallon or I would still be out there on a bicycle like I was for 25 years in the pollution with my cloth air filter mask. as for your attitude, Arthur, you are nasty. that is what set Peter off, who is truly a gentle soul and a fantastic DJ.

21 hours ago · Edited · Like · 1

Susie Davidson Brookline Ma "that's entertainment, that's entertainment..." Paul Weller of the Jam said it best.

PHOTOS: These Red Fans Weren't Very Well Behaved After World

After the Red Sox clinched a World Series title at Fenway Park for the first tim...See More

Susie Davidson Brookline Ma here is another dose of reality from today's newspaper...850 species extinct in Hawaii and California! Batter up!

15 Hawaii animals, plants added to endangered list - The Boston

HONOLULU — An eyeless shrimp and 14 other Hawaii creatures and plants have been ...See More

20 hours ago · Like · Remove Preview

Susie Davidson Brookline Ma Arthur, I take my friends as they are. Peter is speaking from the heart. You speak from nastiness and invective.

20 hours ago · Like

Arthur Port Your hatred of conservatives shows brightly. I feel sorry for you.

20 hours ago · Like

Susie Davidson Brookline Ma gee I never thought of my existence as sorry before, Arthur I have always felt pretty blessed a million times over with my life. But thank you for your observation. and by the way that is the definition of nastiness. personal insults. don't worry because I have pretty thick skin and I am actually a pretty confident person. However I won't tolerate it on my Facebook page so I will be deleting any further insults.

20 hours ago · Like

Susie Davidson Brookline Ma did I say hatred Arthur Port? I don't recall that.

20 hours ago via mobile · Like

Eric Stanway there's nothing you can do with people who lionize those who can hit a ball with a stick, and think that's the apex of the human condition. That said, I've had enough of this pissing contest. I'm out of here.

20 hours ago · Like

Brian J. George Don't hate the player...hate the game. People need a place to escape to...away from the daily grind. 40-50-60 even 70 hours a week at a job where there is never enough appreciation shown for going the extra mile...people need a place to decompress. For...See More

20 hours ago · Like · 2

Susie Davidson Brookline Ma I completely understand however it is the imbalance of sports worship. you don't see that enthusiasm for serving meals to seniors, I'm sorry. I maintain that instead of escaping into entertainment and basing your identity and happiness upon sports figu...See More

17 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1

Paul Murphy So... there is much I agree and disagree with here. Are professional sports over-valued in our society? Sure. But to leap from that fact to painting sports fans with the broad brush you have is unfair and inaccurate. There are many, I'd argue tha vast ...See More

17 hours ago · Edited · Like

Susie Davidson Brookline Ma Hi Paul, I don't see the rabid fandom for other interests. And I don't feel sports are wholesome and a positive engagement as you say. What about all the steroid, domestic abuse (i.e. ALL THREE of Jerry Remy's kids arrested for domestic abuse, which ge...See More

16 hours ago · Like

Susie Davidson Brookline Ma Do you read about sports in general?

RODGERS: Not really. I’m not a sports fan. I’m interested in unique stories, whoever it is. It might be something like Tyler’s book. Within running there aren’t that many books like that. There is Alberto Salazar’s...See More

Bibliophiles interview with Bill Rodgers - The Boston

Back in 1975 Bill Rodgers made winning the Boston Marathon as well as setting a ...See More

16 hours ago · Like · Remove Preview

Susie Davidson Brookline Ma As Ghandi said, those who have seen the light are always in the minority. So none of the attacks by rabid, starry-eyed, identity-based on sports figures people bother me. I know that working to alleviate poverty, help save the environment, going to church or synagogue or doing anything civic, spiritual or humanistic instead is what really matters - not celebrity worship. Sports, dear readers, is BIG BUSINESS. And it exploits those who happily pay the highest prices in baseball (Fenway), eating junk food and paying $700 for a family of five to see a game. But no one cares, they need the entertainment.

Chet Carlin Oh, and you didn't mention the brain injuries in Football. It's an irony that money rules in sports but there was a day when only the front office made any money and the players were screwed (Read "Boys of Summer" about the Brooklyn Dodgers). The players unionized and rather successfully I would say. If the poor are spending their hard earned money at ball games that's their right and, of course, an agreeable escape from a hard scrabble life. Fight the fights you can win, Susie, or, at least, affect positively.

Paul Murphy SSusie, I have no argument with you about the problems and hero worship in sports. And it's fair enough to point them out only if you point out the problems with all of the pursuits you claim are on morally higher ground. You're an alternative music fan, right? Me too. Yet you condemn athletes because of drug use? Why is it that musicians' drug abuse doesn't put you off of music? I know you're a film fan, right? Me too. Yet you condemn athletes because of their spousal problems? You think money fouls athletics. I agree but no more so than it does to film, music, and other forms of entertainment. What makes your preferred brands of entertainment morally superior to those you don't like? And church? Religion? Do I need to list the litany of ills wreaked on the world in the name of organized religion? Again, I find your tolreance, indeed embrace of those things despite their many faults, while condemning athletics for the very same faults, inconsistent at best. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with you consuming any or all of that. But to condemn me and other sports fans is a little like the pot calling the kettle black. Further, I don't see what all those other organizations' connection to the marathin, or lack thereof, has to do with the very real connection between the Red Sox and the marathon. And I don't see what Bill Rodgers view on athletics has to do with it either. I have very real memories of the Elliot Lounge where Red Sox players, marathon runners, and officials would meet post race for a long night of beers and laughs. And again, to paint all people celebrating the Red Sox Championship as "rabid, starry-eyed, identity-based on sports figures people", is absurd, inaccurate and more than a little nasty IMHO.

Chet Carlin Oh, by the way, I could care less about sports. I watched one half of one game of this world series and fell asleep.

15 hours ago · Unlike · 1

Susie Davidson Brookline Ma I brought Bill Rodgers in because of the link of baseball players to the Marathon bombings. I'm not so huge on organized religion either. I just feel bad when the synagogues I grew up with are closing and merging and fighting for survival. They are more than places for prayer. They organize "mitzvah" days where they feed the poor, knit blankets for them for the winter, help the handicapped participate in sports, etc. etc. I am astounded when I write about all these worthy projects that the Social Action Committees undertake. I think there is a difference when multimillionaire athletes take PED and then are inducted into the Hall of Fame, than when some musicians do drugs (not in general punk - they are known for being straightedge and rarely even drink - clubs closed in Boston due to that, with the owners saying in the paper that punks don't drink). Yes, I like the arts. But there is no mass Duck Boat parade for any artistic endeavor that I know of. I think it is a little silly to be comparing small interests to the mass hysteria over the Red Sox. And I never condemned their fans. I just presented the facts, that there are so many good causes that the world really needs, that the voting in Boston is under 30%, that there is a bigger division between the rich and the poor - in Boston and in the US, and yet this multimegalopolous, spectator sport, big business owns the hearts and minds of the public.

Susie Davidson Brookline Ma Chet, I will never stop advocating for the injustices in this world, and can you imagine all that time, energy and money going to alleviate those? I know you feel the same about injustice, and would probably agree on that. People need constant entertainment, and I don't. I have a lot of fun and a great life, and have many interests, without a speck of sports interest. And I would never blow that kind of money like $9 for a hot dog, not that I eat hot dogs anyway. So I don't get it. But I accept that I live in a society where celebrities and entertainment rule, and capitalism is the system of the day. I have to accept that, so I do, even though it is not what I would like to see.

Chet Carlin We all need heroes. It's as simple as that. It can be Gandhi, Marlon Brando, Babe Ruth or all three. I'm showing my age here but you get my point.

15 hours ago · Like

Susie Davidson Brookline Ma Of course, but I know of so many unsung heroes that I write about every day in Boston. I'd love to see them get a little adulation, which they wouldn't want anyway. One is Lew Finfer of Action for Boston Community Development. He has devoted his life to helping the underserved. He is often quoted in the Globe, but is not exactly a household name. There is a gap, because celebrities rule. Kardashianism, Snookie and sports stars are America.

Paul Murphy Susie, I can point you to many, many musicians, punk icons included, who were nothing close to straight edge. In fact I can point you to several, some of whom I think are/were great who were abject junkies. And the Straight Edge movement was/is more tied to the Hardcore scene than punk in general. And if you think the fan base for the Red Sox is anywhere near what it is for many actios and hollywood projects, I have news for you. While the Red Sox have a fair fan base nationwide they are basically a small city phenomenon. Film is an international mega medium. There's nothing small about it. I think your perception that sports/baseball fans are somehow not engaged in addressing the injustices in the world is just not accurate. Anyway, I appreciate the conversation and no hard feelings.

Brian J. George Wow. You accept capitalism because you have to? Really? News flash- this is the United States of America. The greatest country on the planet, and the only place on the planet where we can all have all of these opinions and beliefs, no matter what anyone else thinks. And the greatest part of all? You don't have to accept anything. You are free to go anywhere you like. Nobody will stop you from leaving. You may, however, find it difficult getting back in. Well then again, maybe not.

Meryl Pearlstein Accept sports for what it is, and accept the rest for the challenge they pose.

13 hours ago · Like

Daniel M. Kimmel Wow, how are those millionaire athletes "heroes?" They get paid to play a game, that's all. Look, enjoy your local teams if you want to, but I join Susie in being sick of a culture where sports trumps everything else. If I'm taking a bus up Brookline Avenue when there's a game I end up having to walk extra blocks because the buses are rerouted. For whose convenience? Not the riders. Yawkey Way -- a PUBLIC STREET -- is turned over to the Red Sox during games for a private business and if you don't have a ticket you don't get to walk down this public street. (And let's not get into streets closed down and people inconveniences by the Marathon and all those other road races.)
Your team won the "World" Series (which almost the entire world ignores)? Good for you. It doesn't change anything except for the players and owners and people with business arrangements or dependencies with the Red Sox. My life is not better because they won and it certainly wouldn't have been worse off if they lost. And yet the media coverage implies that "all" of Boston was behind "our" team. Excuse me, I don't have a team. I'm not a multimillionaire who can afford to own a professional athletic club.

Now, at least, the Red Sox fans will stop clogging the Green Line until next spring (after we get through their parade on Saturday). I wonder of how many of "our" players will be leaving the state thereafter to go to their real homes in other parts of the country.

Susie Davidson Brookline Ma Brian, there is a danger in referring to something as the "Greatest." I would say get a dose of humility. Jingoism is braggadocio. For your info, your "greatest country in the world" is among the lowest in life expectancy, abysmal in education, highest in childhood poverty, overrun with debt, has a humongous gap between the rich and poor, has a Congress that can't get along, shall I continue? China and India are on pace to overrun us in every way. Their kids are succeeding in math and science and in general are leaving parent-fueled sports-crazed, violent video game-playing American kids in the dust. When - when - that happens, you won't be so full of hubris.

Lo Galluccio Well Susie, my late great Dad was a big believer in voting and the good side of political engagement, and in baseball. As an Italian immigrant, it was always his dream to be a big-league baseball player. Maybe the game has become corrupted by big-money, as has so much in America, but it's still a great game and teaches kids certain values about team-work, winning/losing, and even physical prowess. I don't think baseball is the real villian. I think capitalism is. I am wary of organized religion, though I know there is a real value in it too. I'd rather see more people going to the theatre, to be honest with you.

Brian J. George Susie, you mentioned India. India has a National Sports Day honoring their top athletes.
August 29 is celebrated as National Sports Day all across the country. August 29 is instituted as National Sports Day in tribute to the legendary hockey player of India. The day marks the birth anniversary of hockey wizard, Major Dhyan Chand. Dhyanchand
National Sports Day is mainly celebrated in educational institutes and sports academies all over the country. Various sports events especially hockey matches, prize distribution functions are organized on this day. Celebrations for National Sports Day are more common in Punjab and Chandigarh side.
Special Award distribution event at Rastrapati Bhawan makes this day memorable for many stars of the Indian sports world. Popular and renowned sport-related awards like Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Arjuna Award and Dronacharya Award are presented by honorable president of India, to great sportsmen of the year.
Dhyan Chand Award is India’s highest award for Lifetime Achievement in sports. This award is bestowed annually to sporting figures and sportsperson who have not only contributed through their performance but have also worked for the promotion of the sport after their retirement. The Indian Postal Service after Major Dhyan Chand's death in 1979 issued a commemorative stamp in his honor. The National Stadium, Delhi was renamed Dhyan Chand National Stadium in 2002 to honor India’s greatest Hockey Legend.

Would it be fair to say they not only honor...but worship their athletes in a manner you don't, and never would, see in this country?

Brian J. George You know, come to think of it, one only needs to watch Olympic ceremonies from other countries around the world to see that athletes are honored, respected, idolized and viewed as heroes in every corner of this world.

Like I said...hate the game. Not the player.

3 hours ago via mobile · Like

Natalie Rosen I see your points and agree with most BUT for those of us who did find a connection to the emotional devastation of the Marathan bombing and those who have had a love for Boston and the Sox for decades that reaches into our childhoods I do not see the harm in taking some joy from the win ESPECIALLY because you are so right there are so many things that are wrong. These are lLife and death issues. Perhaps some of the Sox players will help us by their celebrity to address those too.

Natalie Rosen and one more thing I cry NOT for organized religion no matter what religion it is. It TOO just like sports is a money making usually patriarchal venture often rife with corruption. I shed no tears for the demise of organized religion. LIVE your faith I say and help the least of those who truly need it and NOT mouth the platitudes and false utterances of ancient myths that have no truth. Help those who cannot help themselves and leave most religions unless they help the least of these out of the mix.

Daniel M. Kimmel The Olympics are a symbol of using sports for politics, cheating to gain national prestige, and the ultimate meaninglessness of letting who wins some game determine ANYTHING other than who won that game.

Susie Davidson Brookline Ma I think that people are just so blinded by the star worship in baseball that they will counter anything that I say with their own rationalizations. yes the Olympics are watched by everyone. I even watched the gymnastics last year. But it is not the same as the Red Sox in Boston I don't care what you say. Lo, baseball was different in your and my beloved fathers' day. It was not the big business that it is now with multi billionaire owners and managers and the costs skyrocketing for fans. Natalie, as I said, there were any number of other were the events going on around the time of the marathon. David Ortiz will not make up for the losses of that day no matter how much he swears. Brian, there is no way India worships their sports players to the detriment of everything else like in Boston. They value education above all - unlike the US. Cut and paste whatever you wish as you rave about America being number 1, but this is a celebrity-worshipping culture of constant escapism and entertainment and huge money. My heroes by contrast are those who are working for change and for very little money or fame. By the way many of that clothing memorabilia that is overpriced and everyone is wearing are made in sweat shops and places like Bangladesh no one is out rallying about the fires and deaths. in fact inspections following last year's 900 death major disaster have not even begun yet according to the Globe this week. Does anyone care?

I have simply never seen or felt a need to escape from my life and pay tons of money and give up tons of my free time to do so.

Daniel M. Kimmel No, not everyone. I never watch the Olympics. Not even the opening and closing ceremonies.

about an hour ago · Like

Jonathan Weiner Susie, as an avid sports fan and rabid Red Sox fan, I agree with you strongly. Yes, the hero worship given to athletes who can catch a ball or throw a pass or sink a game-winning three is truly misplaced. However, I do disagree with you regarding the Red Sox tie in with what happened at the Marathon. The team did plenty in not only recognizing those that passed away as a result of what took place, but many of those that suffered a loss of limb or doctors that worked feverishly with those patients were honored considerably over the course of the season. And the team also had a team jersey (with the number 617 in honor of Boston and its area code) hanging in its dugout during every game to help honor the victims and the city. And many athletes (without notoriety or attention) visit many hospitals, such as Children's Hospital of Mass General) to see patients that are afflicted for whatever reason. Yes, many athletes are heartless and spoiled and undeserving of hero worship. But they are also human, do care (some of them, not all) about the cities and communities that they're playing in, and involve themselves in a number of charities without any recognition (the legendary Bobby Orr is one of them, especially when he was a Bruin back in the '70's).

48 minutes ago · Like

Brian J. George Susie, you quote the Globe often. You do realize the Globe is owned by the Red Sox owner, right?

43 minutes ago via mobile · Like

Susie Davidson Brookline Ma I had nothing to do with that, Brian, and my boyfriend wrote a letter that was published at the time, saying is there no escape from sports in Boston. Jonathan, the sports players SHOULD help the victims. They are multi-millionaires. Wouldn't you? I know you would, knowing you. And don't forget, their big picture is in the Names page every day, helping the victim or the kid - their names are up in lights for every deed they do. Maimonides said the second highest form of charity is anonymous giving.

10 minutes ago · Like


Daniel M. Kimmel Talk about myths. The big one is that whether some private business wins or loses a GAME matters to the self-worth of a city or state is one of the biggest ones of all. Many of us are entirely indifferent to the fates of the local professional teams. Our lives are not altered one way or the other by their winning or losing. It's time the media started reporting THAT rather than simply acting as shills and cheerleaders.
about an hour ago · Like

Susie Davidson Brookline Ma So true, Dan. People walk around swaggering. It is pathetic to see. Because of a win they paid money and time to support. My whole point in all of this is, there are so many problems in the world and in Boston that are huge and will affect these fans' lives greatly, such as the looming environmental disaster and air pollution being named as the top carcinogen, sweatshops making the team memorabilia with fires and deaths, the poor unable to attend games or pay for cable, etc., but they don't care. Bring on another brewski, let's get entertained, let's go (fill in team). Snookie and Kardashians culture. You can't win. You can only do what you feel is truly important. But at least you have more of your own money and time to do that with when you're not obsessed with sports worship (which I feel is idol worship, plain and simple, whether you are religious or not).
about an hour ago · Like

Marilyn L. Katler I think sometimes people need a diversion from all the real scary stuff. During the depression movies were often about rich people. It seems odd, but somehow it took peoples' minds off of their problems for a while.
about an hour ago · Like

Marilyn L. Katler I am sad that it is so expensive. My son has never been to Fenway. It was a staple for me as a teenager. We were all quite able to afford to see the 1967 Red Sox. I thought when they lost last year, I would be able to go again. I am glad they won, but it did raise the prices to a point where it is not really feasable to go. We have seen minor league games both in RI and Lowell. FYI: I feel the same way about concerts. Most are way to high for me to go once someone makes it.
58 minutes ago · Like

Mare Streetpeople i agree
20 minutes ago · Like

Mare Streetpeople i agree susie -but also know that the eucharistic shrine in boston on boylston st is packed on a sunday night s at 8pm & you can hear the game in fenway park while its going on. all college students attending Mass. a miracle.