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Capitalism and sports

Gurkirat Batth and Amrit Koonar

March 12, 2014

Sports for the average person are something to enjoy—whether they are watching it to relieve stress or playing them to lead a healthier lifestyle. But capitalism’s pursuit of profit has turned sports into a money making machine.
Soccer, the most famous sport in the world, started out as just a game played by school boys in England. When it started, there were no positions or fancy equipment, just normal people playing a game they enjoyed. Originally sports were not competitive, but rather more about culture, healthy living and pleasure.
Competition and profit
During the industrial revolution, companies started many of today’s big clubs—like Arsenal and Manchester United—which pitted workers against each other. Over time, sports have been integrated into a system to promote working class rivalries, competition and profit-making. Now sports are a stunning $440 billion dollar venture in North America alone.
We now have people who make their living by playing sports and make more money in a few years than most of us will in our lifetime. The system has glorified these athletes based on the number of goals they score or home runs they hit. Due to incentives attached to this, athletes have adopted steroids and other substances to enhance their performance and make more money. This creates a false perception for the society of what it means to be healthy. But most athletes have very short careers, with little fame or glory, and when they are injured they are tossed aside like used machinery—while the millionaire sports CEOs keep making money.
The Olympics originated from Athens where Greek citizens tested their strength, agility, endurance and mental ability, with minimal gear and equipment. These same events now athletes train day and night for four years, and cost the host city billions of dollars--$50 billion in the case of the Olympics in Sochi. The events that have become more of a corporate spectacle with sponsorships and advertisements all made possible by the taxpayers money to fund the infrastructure to hold the games.
Who pays?
Golden goals are often remembered more than the blood, sweat and tears of the working class that make the games possible. Brazil is hosting the upcoming FIFA World Cup, building stadiums instead of schools, hospitals and accessible public transit. Qatar is hosting the 2022 World Cup, spending $100 billion to build the infrastructure while paying workers pennies. We need to challenge capitalism to reclaim sports as a pursuit of pleasure and health instead of profit.
Join the discussion From the Sochi Olympics to the NFL: Capitalism, Sports and Resistance, Sunday March 30 in west Toronto.

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