14 December 2006

America's Team, American Trauma

There are things that make me truly proud to be an American: driving along lost, desert highways and being swallowed by the sky; knowing you can buy anything you need at any time of any day of the year; living among people who are loving and compassionate. I count my blessings often.

There are other things that make me cringe. The latest is plans for a new football stadium for the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas. This baby costs a whopping $1 billion. It will seat 80,000 people, and it features the following luxuries: a massive dining room from which people can gorge themselves (if they have room after tailgating) while watching the game on big-screen TVs, a massive 60-yard-wide, 50-foot-high, four-sided, basketball-style scoreboard that will hang from the middle of the stadium and broadcast replays and a healthy share of advertisements; and a locker room for the 53 football players that is as big as a WalMart Supercenter!

Let's review, shall we?
  • WalMart-sized locker room
  • 180 X 50-foot scoreboards
  • $1 billion
I should add that the Cowboys will play EIGHT games a year in this monstrosity. Okay, okay, there are two preseason games and as many as two playoff games that could be played there, too. Maximum number of games: 12.

What is it going to do the other 353 days of the year? I guess it will shine really nicely. They might even play a Super Bowl there or a college bowl game!

I remember traveling through Germany in 1996 and realizing how public works reveal the values of a society. In the Dark Ages, vast proportions of the economy were utilized to build castles and fortifications for societies that valued security. In the Middle Ages, vast sums went into building churches across Europe, again emphasizing the piety of the populace. Other ages have been devoted to transport, space, and public buildings.

From 1994 to the present day, America has indulged itself in an orgy of stadium-building. Every city now has one or two new, shining arenas or stadiums. You can't miss them in places like Nashville, Oklahoma City or Phoenix. And why? Is this what ages that are to come will judge us by? Are they going to say, "America was a great nation that invested in its sports teams"?

The last thing our country (or our planet) needs is a football stadium like this. It is a colossal waste of money, and I consider it to be a national embarrassment.

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