The Use Of America’s Pro Sports Leagues To Promote American Militarism…

Marc Elliott

THE METROPLEX…. Since the MLB All Star game took place in the Twin Cities on July 15th there have been a few world events/crises that are definite eyebrow raisers. A scant two days after the game, the shoot-down of a Malaysian Airlines jet over the Ukraine-Russian border grabbed the attention of the world. 298 human beings on board perished in this incident. The most popular explanation for the responsibility of this has been laid at the feet of pro-Russian separatists, who are being armed and funded by Russia in a battle for political and economic control of the Ukraine. As is always the case for events in that region of the world, all I will add is that it is complicated, very complicated.
Then the intensification of the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian conflict has brought the Israeli military right into Gaza, and the ensuing violence is devastating to the human spirit. I can empathize with the Israelis, as I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood as a kid and had many classmates of that faith. Now, I see their treatment of the Palestinians as repulsive and anti-peace. I have tried for many years to understand this conflict from both sides and I can no longer do it. It is long past time to get to the table and forge a lasting peace. Whatever it takes, and the Israelis are going to have to be able to make some concessions. I am certain to be branded an anti-Semite. Fine, whatever. Peace is the only thing that works.
In a lesser, but no less important item, a TransAsia aircraft crashed with 48 of 58 passengers gone, and then another large aircraft, an Air Algerie MD-83, went down with the loss of all 117 on board. In doing some digging around on the web, I have come across a few blogs where some posters were pondering if the Malaysia MH17 incident and a crash from earlier in the year of another Air Malaysia craft, flight 370, had any connections. There were, allegedly, some passengers on both flights from the same semiconductor company that has been involved in work with our government, the CIA, or both. Makes one wonder.
But the 15th was cut out for baseball and for recognizing the career of a soon-to-be-retired player who has by and large played the game and conducted his life away from the game in an honorable way. Derek Jeter has been a baseball warrior, no questions asked. So here I was, sitting in Denver watching one of my favorite parts of that event every year, the player introductions. I was proud to be a Twins fan that night as everyone there gave every player involved a nice cordial greeting. EVEN White Sox and Brewers players were politely applauded. Then there was an honoring of area educators and the obligatory national anthems of Canada and of the United States, and then…
The military flyover. This is a phenomenon that most of us have come to expect in this day and age, that at any major outdoor sporting event there will be a military flyover of some sort. I am torn by these displays, to be honest with you. The technology that goes into the aircraft used by our military forces is mind boggling. The power of their destructive force and the realization of their sole purpose for existence is mind numbing. There is the impulse to get behind and show support and honor to those in our armed forces. As a taxpayer I am supporting them financially, even as I disagree with what our government is using them for. I am hoping on a daily basis for their safety and safe return to their families at the conclusion of their service terms.     
But yes, the flyover. A simple thing, yet a complex thing. A young kid in the crowd waves to the planes as they pass overhead, and the battle for mind control and psychological imposition fly over with them. Our government push for militarism, to make all of this use of our military so commonplace we don’t even notice it anymore, forges ahead. Another violent episode occurs somewhere else in the world today and we don’t even whimper. Nary an eyebrow gets raised. We honor our soldiers at football games, baseball and hockey, basketball and car racing. Everyone does it, all of the major leagues and events. You would stand out negatively if you didn’t.
What does one of these things cost? I have no idea. A million dollars? (That’s probably low.) In the recent GOP quest to cut all “non-essential” spending and save us from our government—you know, the GOP deficit crusade (I can see John Boehner on a horse in a suit of armor, sword raised skyward)—I have never heard them mention the flyover as a budget cut item, or the myriad TV ads and billboards I see all over the country, imploring us to be “Army Strong,” or all of the NASCAR vehicles I see with military sponsorship. In fact, a Minnesota congressional representative, Betty McCollum, challenged the military advertising budget in the recent past, and the heat she took from the GOP and some Dems was interesting. What I drew from it was that the GOP is more interested in playing power politics than they are in reining in the federal budget. Pure phonies. Well, not pure, but phonies nonetheless.
Most of them are, from both sides of the aisle. If most of these people put their job performance into your company, surely they would have been fired by now. The nonsense marches forward, and if we were warned about the military-industrial complex as recently as 1961, by an exiting president no less, his words hold only more gravity now, as that has been expanded into the congressional-intelligence-military-industrial complex of today. As I write these words, I smile because I have just seen the preview of Dr. Kohls’ column for the week. You should read it.
So okay, major leagues, I’ll let up for now, but only if you trot out a peace activist before one of your golden events sometime soon. What? Don’t hold my breath? PEACE

Marc Elliott is a sports opinion writer who splits his time between Minnesota and his hometown in Illinois…