Sports ‘giant’

Americans' focus on athletes and sporting events seems to overshadow far more significant issues.

An alien coming to the United States these past couple of weeks would have every right to believe “sports” is this nation’s No. 1 obsession. Newspaper headlines, television programs, radio talk shows, the Internet, and magazines are filled with stories, programs and pictures of Olympic preparations: the arrival of participants, the arrival of heads of nations gathering in Beijing for the sport extravaganza, along with stories of which athletes have been banned from competing because of the use of drugs.

This past weekend the Professional Golf Association staged its annual tournament, and NASCAR provided a crash-studded auto race. Football practices began at hundred of colleges and universities, with media stories about players reporting for practice, their weight, their speed, their injuries or recovery from injuries and their eligibility as well as troubles with the law.

The same media recently were filled with stories about football player Brett Favre, who was traded by the Green Bay Packers, after an aborted retirement, to the New York Jets.

Many of these same media outlets have carried prominent stories about Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self getting a $3 million per year 10-year contract to coach on Mount Oread.

Pro football is about to open its season as professional baseball nears the World Series.

American and worldwide businesses are spending record amounts on advertising their products in connection with the Olympics and other sports.

Unfortunately, especially as it is reflected in recent election turnout, it appears the public is far more interested in the outcome of various sporting events than in the major issues facing the nation, or the election of a new U.S. president.

There is far more passion displayed about a sports event than there is toward national political affairs or local civic matters in city after city.

And at many universities, one has to wonder why more attention seems to be given to sports, sports facilities, athletic housing and coaches’ contracts than to the primary mission of educating young men and women. It’s gotten out of hand, and unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be any effort to restrain this “sports” giant. The monster just keeps growing. How much better off would we be with the same focus, passion and dedication turned toward education, civic and community affairs, and an interest and involvement in the major issues facing our country and the world!