Baseball, Penn State, and Coup D'Etats
July 20, 2001
Oh, the halcyon days of 1994, before the "Contract on America"
and the "election" (just how long has this ballot-stuffing/ballot-blocking
been going on?) of a Grand Hypocrisy Party majority in Congress.
Even then, the signs were there of things to come... right
out there in the open. Many of us might have stared into right
into the face of these omens, these portents, and didn't realize
what they meant. I know I didn't. All I remember is a queasy
Orwellian feeling in my gut, a feeling which I am supremely
accustomed to now as a permanent state of affairs.
In summer of 1994, major-league baseball went on strike.
For the first time in a century, no World Series was played.
Fans, justifiably angry at a self-serving sport that had worn
it's lack of concern for the people who paid the salaries,
turned off to baseball in droves, many never to return. In
that first year, I recall, fan attendance was down by 15-20%.
Part of me was happy. Attendance was down, so salaries would
follow. Baseball players, who lately had been known for pissing
off the fans and dissing kids looking for autographs, would
be taken down a peg. Less money would mean that baseball players
would get a needed dose of humility.
I continued to follow baseball from afar, on the news and
in the sports pages, waiting for the ienvitable. But a funny
thing happened - salaries just kept going up. It was like
it didn't matter that people were going to baseball games
less frequently. The people that ran the institution just
kept making do with their 15-20% reduced gate and made up
the money from TV or advertising.
I was shocked at the revelation that the primary consumers
of this commodity really weren't necessary. Taken ad absurdiam,
this meant that, theoretically, attendance could fall 100%,
and the empty stadiums would still hum on with blaring advertisements,
empty vending areas, and deserted souvenir stands. Now, of
course, in reality something would give long before this happened,
but what struck me was that the wealthy ballplayers and owners
were immune from criticism on all but the largest scale.
They could do damn near anything they want, as long as they
didn't piss off so many people that it fell below the critical
mass which advertisers would get antsy; a critical mass that
was certainly greater than a whopping 20% decrease in fan
interest. I got that queasy Orwellian feeling. Something had
changed, that's all I knew, and it would take a sociologist
to put it in appropriate words.
Jan 1995: Penn State and Nebraska are both undefeated. By
the structure of the pre-Bowl Alliance NCAA, they would not
meet in a championship game. Who would be crowned national
champions? The powers that be had already decided that it
would be Nebraska.
Before the Orange Bowl, #1 Nebraska vs. #3 Miami (FL), Bob
Costas led the broadcast with a syrupy tribute to Tom Osborne,
so chock full of patriotism and apple pie guaranteed to choke
up the most stoic superpatriot. In it, a teary Osborne was
said to be pursuing this lofty goal for his deceased father
(cue American flag rippling in the background - I'm not making
this up). No mention of Penn State, no mention of Jo Pa's
vicious defense and stellar bombs-away offense. Nebraska wins,
and the championship is theirs, end of story.
Now mind you, Penn State was not even to play until the next
day. They might have beaten #5 Oregon by 75 points, Costas
and his NBC corporate masters didn't know, but the annointment
continued. All through the game, I sat at the bar with my
friends listening to his patronizing, dare I say propagandizing,
tone. With every phrase he hammered home that all Tom Osborne
had to do was win, and the national championship would be
his, for his Dad (cue manly tears, choked back). And when
the game was over, little letters flashed below the cheering
Cornhuskers, "National Champions". I could only think of the
sheep in Orwell's Animal Farm, screaming, "Nebraska good!
Penn State bad!"
Now you might say to me, "Dude, it was just a dumb football
game. What does this have to do with Selection 2000?"
I'll tell you what I see now, that I could not put together
back then, having not witnessed multiple open criminal acts,
performed proudly in broad daylight, and daring anybody to
say it's wrong. As the coup d'etat of 2000 was. That is that
we have, as everyone can now see, undergone a massive sea
change in our nation. People are jaded, tired, apathetic.
We get so much information, indeed we are choked with it,
that it's easy to get everybody to tune out or throw their
hands up in confusion by generating a lot of noise/propaganda.
The wealthy are more insulated from the rest of us than at
any time since the 1890s and perhaps the 1590s. That they
need us less now than they ever have. They can run their empty
stadiums with virtual crowds, and in fact, damned if the trend
of packing stadiums with luxury boxes isn't picking up. The
NBA finals showcased a stadium in LA that was 50% skyboxes.
It looked strange, but not as strange as the ones to be built
20 years from now, when the gap between rich and poor will
be ten times greater than it is now, and will have 80% luxury
boxes with a sliver of seats above and below, none of which
can be afforded by anyone making less than $200,000 a year.
And as this sea change has made fans less relevant to the
smooth operation of sport, casting them as mindless consumers
to be prodded and propagandized into a profitable position,
so has it gone with our once-proud nation, now tasting the
first tiny sting of what could well be a totalitarian future.
There is a certain grim symmetry in these three events: baseball
strike, NCAA Football Championship and coup d'etat. It is
important for those of us fighting to free America to take
note of these things, because Selection 2000 was not something
that happened out of the blue. The social forces and sweeping
changes in national character didn't rise overnight. They
won't change course overnight either.
The sad truth is these trends might not change at all. In
that event, the old USA will finally be ripe for conquest
the only way it's ever been during most of our history...by
our own unscrupulous countrymen (and women).