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Capitalism and Sports Degradation in North and South America

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“Our football belongs to the working class and has the size, nobility and generosity to allow everyone to enjoy it as a spectacle.”

- Cesar Luis Menotti, Football Manager

Sports for the masses in North and South America is the opium of choice, as it relieves for brief periods of their lives the drudgery, monotony and isolation they endure within the social milieu they were born into at birth. In South America, where Football is the most-favored spectacle, the people feel they have a voice to participate in the most creative sport on earth.  The people in the countries of Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Brazil, and the other Latin American countries, will go to the most extreme economic and social circumstances to be a participant in Football as both a symbol of their art form and rebellion in the arena of class warfare. 

In contrast, the masses in the United States are addicted to American Football with its own kind of spectacle,  organized by the elite monetary class of the USA whose mentality is to induce in the American working class almost a cult subservience to the game and to patronize the game's violence with its extreme physical contact compared in some degree to the bloody arena of Roman gladiator contests. And so, in both histories of the two spectacle Football sports, the modern era is witnessing a social corruption, as well as an incendiary, imperialistic, violent political approach erupting in towns and cities of both continents.

Here in the USA,  we have almost exclusive white Anglo Caucasian ownership of the majority of teams in both American Football and American Basketball, with few national minority ownership within the American capitalist sports system,  a development even reported by the establishment American media. Ahiza Garcia of CNN Money noted, "Only two people of color owned or co-owned professional NFL teams: Shahid Khan of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Kim Pegula of the Buffalo Bills. The lack of diversity spreads through all major American sports leagues, with the NBA having the most people of color own or co-own teams (only three). The same goes for management and coaching positions as well.”[i]

Of the 32 Football teams within the NFL, and 30 basketball teams within the NBA, only 5 teams out of 62 teams total are owned by individuals who are national ethnic minorities. However, even if national minority ownership should increase, that does not mean the rights and dignity of both the white and national minority athletes would become more established, since the sports industry is still part of the American capitalist system which is now declining as it becomes more abusive and violent in its death throes.

As Paul Kasabia commented on the reputable website bleacherreport. com,  “… Cal sociology professor emeritus and civil rights activist Harry Edwards said the policy [stating] players must stand for the anthem or stay in the locker room, is representative of a 'plantation mentality.' Edwards noted NFL owners "are wealthy, entitled and arrogant, and they essentially view their players as property, not human beings with rights guaranteed by the Constitution. ... [NFL team] owners are acting like plantation owners, insisting that any act of ‘rebellion’ must be squelched.”[ii] 

Within the “plantation owner” mentality, if the term is to be used in its past and present American historical context, there is then the question of caring for the ‘slaves’ of the sports that brings profit. According to the official NFL website      nfl. com, the year 2017 produced more significant concussions  reported in professional American Football. “Injury data for the 2017 season released by the NFL for the 2017 season... showed a season-over-season increase in concussions suffered by players amid a rise in self-reporting of symptoms. Data compiled by IQVIA, an independent third party retained by the league, showed a 13.5 percent increase in diagnosed concussions from 2016 to 2017 (243 to 281) over the preseason and regular season. The increase comes after 28 percent of concussion evaluations came following self-reported by players -- a nine-point increase over last year. Nearly half (47 percent) of all concussions included some self-reporting component when being flagged by team doctors and independent neurological specialists.”[iii]

What is apparent within the USA's sports industry complex is that American athletes are paying with their lives to provide a sports spectacle for the American people who sit passively in front of their television sets, or watch from their I-pads or Apple tablets if they had not gone to their nearest arena or neighborhood bar or corner tavern to see American football players no longer play the traditional graceful art of American football as it once was, but now participate in a deliberately more violent and horrifically thuggish sport that has lost its art for the sake of profits and a plantation-mentality circus performance.

In Latin America, the degradation of domestic International Football has its own forms of political, social and economic warfare among the South American masses, which also affects  those  North American viewers watching the matches from the various corporate television sites. Unlike in the United States, Football in Latin America is rooted into the communities,  as is historically known, particularly the working classes, from birth until death.  There is no room for betrayal of the supportive team group one is originally born into. Nor is there tolerance for not giving the most direct support possible to the “colors” of one’s Football team. To not be a part of the social joy and tragedy of one’s community Football team’s history is to invite ostracism and outright neglect and shunning from family and friends.

Thus, Football in Latin America is symbolic of life and death. In the Unites States, the Americans with their “soccer” — known as Football in most of the rest of the world — has not reached such a state of political and social development, although in its early stages within the 21st century. In late 2018, a Final Championship match between the two most famous Argentine Football teams had become so violent in anticipation and actual performance, it had to be moved to a venue outside the country.

“Argentina's problems with football hooliganism," the website france24.com wrote with astute insight, "were thrown into the spotlight by the postponement of the historic Copa Libertadores final between Buenos Aires arch rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors. The match had to be postponed twice after River fans attacked the Boca team bus, and the South American football federation ultimately chose to relocate it to Spain. But this phenomenon is not confined to just one country in South America, where several others also wrestle with the scourge of football-related thuggery. It's a blight that has left hundreds of people dead and which transcends local rivalries and street brawls among fans, into organized crime and corruption facilitated by politicians.”[iv] 

Propelled by contemporary political crises affecting the majority of South American countries, besides spilling over into the more economically destitute countries of Central America, there is a growing violence within the sport of Football that Americans in the United States, in their naiveté about international sports in general, could not comprehend, since such social violence is beyond their nationalist imagination, for they only know the simplistic symbolism of the America anthem and their American Football or their American Basketball as a fashionable pastime, not sports to live and die for amid the American culture.

The Bleacher Report which I have quoted earlier in this essay also documents some recent outspoken remarks of Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James who said on his HBO Sports series The Shop, that the NFL has "... a bunch of old white men owning teams, who have a slave mentality toward players.”[v]

But his reference to such a “slave mentality” does not begin to give the full measure of what it actually means to be a slave athlete in the United States or in a South America or Central American country—  Whether an American Football player or a Footballer in the international sense of the true meaning of playing Football, a slave athlete is a slave in its total meaning of servitude, subjected not only to economic degradation, but also a worker who becomes a political pawn of the criminally profiteering capitalist industrial sports complex.

Author: Luis Lázaro Tijerina