Monday, September 3, 2018

Standing At the Crossroads—The Arts, and the Business of Sports

On Labor Day weekend, when summer has its last blast and the new school year is close behind it, I was standing at the L’Enfant Plaza subway stop, that warm weekend evening.
I was coming back from the National Book Festival with singles, couples, and families including small children, enthused with their learning about what the world of the book has to offer. We were met by singles, couples, and families with small children going to that night’s Nationals game against the Brewers. There was some hope and some joy among all of the riders that night, but there was a gulf developing between us.
At the National Book Festival, we learned from authors how they honed their craft, how they wrote their books, how they researched, how they thought, how they created, how stories were told. All of this gave greater depth and meaning to the books that we read or wanted to read. At one session, three thousand people were turned away; there was that level of enthusiasm and interest, and that much thirst for knowledge. People were turned away at several sessions, but they quickly recovered and sought and found knowledge from another gifted author.
People going to the Nationals game were going to cheer on a team whose owners had already given up on the season, even when they still had a chance at the pennant. About 10 days ago, the Nationals started to unload some of their most talented players like gifted hitter Daniel Murphy, and prime pinch hitter, Matt Adams, and more recently former twenty-game winner Gio Gonzalez, who always pitched his heart out. These were key members of a team built over several seasons,
These “unloadings” or trades were made with little explanation, and with little or no attention to the fans or the other players. There was no reason given for giving up so fast and on such good players; there was no explanation of what they were doing or where they wanted to go in the present or the future. They just seemed to want to save some salary money, while they wanted their fans to still pay their hard-earned money to see the remaining games. There were no reasons or refunds offered to the fans, and no explanation to the other players who remained..
It is a sad lesson indeed to teach to children and to adults--giving up early with no need to explain. That sadly was the destination for fans going to one stop on the subway line—it would be just another night, and another sad loss. From another stop, fans were being urged to pursue more knowledge, more depth, and more analysis, and to never give up writing, reading, listening, and learning.
There were high expectations and knowledge was honored and treasured at one subway stop, and there was low expectations, giving up, and no explanations at another stop. We all shared that weekend night with some hope and some joy; we were in that subway station standing at a crossroads.