Professional Sports: Slavery Or A Three Ring Circus?

Paul AugustinCorrespondent IApril 17, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - JUNE 21:  Cirque du Soleil performers entertain the crowd prior to during day three of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for gymnastics at the Wachovia Center on June 21, 2008 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

I posted a comment that on a recent piece, "Ranking the Playoffs By What Really Counts: Cheerleaders," written by B/R scribe Sweet Mo.  This article, admittedly a humor piece, brought to mind much of what is wrong with professional sports today.

If you have ever been to a circus, you will recall that, while there is some main event happening all of the time, there are side shows going on all around.  It seems that today’s professional sporting events have turned into more of a circus act then a sporting event.

The “center ring” might be the game.  However, amid the blaring music, employees of the arena throwing out T-shirts and trinkets, and scantily clad cheerleaders and dancers gyrating around like exotic dancers in a Bourbon Street nightclub, it is hard to tell exactly what the main act is sometimes.

Certain that I will seem like an old fogy or a stick in the mud, I still feel compelled to write this article.  I admit that I am not the world’s utmost authority on sports and sporting venues.  However, I am fairly qualified by my life experiences to write this story.

As a young boy, I went to professional sporting events across the country.  My father was a Master Gunnery Sergeant in the US Marine Corps, and we traveled all over the country.  

Every place we took vacation in the summer had some professional sports event happening.  I can remember going to games at Wrigley Field and Comiskey Stadium in the same day.

During the regular parts of the year, when we were not traveling, my dad had a game on TV, and usually had one the radio at the same time.  This was in the one television per household era, so whatever my dad watched, I watched.

When my dad retired and we settled back in New Orleans, we went to Saints games from the very beginning, the former Buccaneers from the old ABA, and the New Orleans Jazz and now Hornets games. Needless to say, as a youth, I watched my share of professional sports games.

I was also a participant, having played baseball, basketball, football, volleyball, track and field, and racquetball at some sort of competitive level.  I have also been a coach of recreation and competitive baseball, soccer, and basketball teams and was, at one time, a FIFA accredited soccer referee.

My first memories of cheerleaders were people who actually lead cheers—hence the name cheerleader.  Now, I am not sure of the purpose of having these women at the games.

There seems to be an attempt to be as scantily clad and vulgar as possible.  If these women were to walk the streets of the French Quarter looking and acting as they do at games, surely they would draw attention—from vice squad police.

I would not want my daughter, sister, granddaughter, girlfriend, or wife to be shaking her mostly naked body the way NBA cheerleaders do in front of a bunch of lecherous, often drunken men.  I do not want my youngest son growing up to believe that it is okay look at women as objects to be lusted after.

When did this become acceptable behavior?  Why is it condoned to treat women as objects instead of people?

This same attitude and thinking is what made American slavery acceptable and prevalent for the first 100 years of our country’s history. After all, the black Africans were not really people, they were property, objects to be bought and sold like cattle at auction.  Right?

A woman, be she a cheerleader, dancer, or a teacher should be respected for their unique gifts, their beauty, and their talents. They should most definitely not be look upon as objects for a man’s lustful gratification.

Between the cheerleaders dressed like hookers and the music that is so loud it makes my ears ring, I almost hate going to games now. I would almost rather pass up seeing a game in person in favor of recording it on my DVR so I can skip through all of the nonsense and stick to enjoying the sporting event.

I have actually passed on free suite and club seats because of this.

I wonder why teams believe they need to resort to this sort of thing to attract the fan to the stadium.  Is it possible that the product that is on the court or the field is not attractive enough to bring in the fan on its own?