Are professional sports becoming an increasingly attractive target for civil disobedience?


Jorge Arangure, Jr. of VICE has an interesting column today. He reminds us that the unrest in Baltimore actually began outside of Camden Yards, maybe by coincidence, maybe by convenience, maybe by design. But it has him musing as to what the future for sports and civil unrest may hold:

These protests outside of Camden Yards recalled the public gatherings outside of St. Louis Rams games and St. Louis Cardinals playoff games last year in response to the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Ferguson, Missouri resident Michael Brown, who was unarmed at the time. The fact that sporting events have become targets, or at least staging locations, of protests brings up a troubling question for leagues and teams: Just what role will sports play in a future where citizens continue to fight, sometimes violently, for their individual rights?

His piece goes on to examine the social and economic stratification embodied in professional sports, the fan base and the stadiums which are peddled as public goods but which are really playgrounds for the rich and privileged.

I don’t know if the nexus between protests and sports is a conscious thing or something which will increase in intensity. I feel like, at the moment anyway, it’s more of a convenience thing as stadiums have big gathering spaces, public access at least on the outside and the like. Easier to meet at the statue than it is to meet at some address.

But I am totally on board with the notion that a lot of what we’re seeing lately is every bit of a class thing as it is a race thing. And will observe that, throughout history, class struggles have tended to focus on the most conspicuous symbols and examples of class divide. Sports is up there these days.