Add it Up

From the front page of the Boston Globe, Saturday, November 3, 2007:
US Behind in Arms Deliveries to Iraq – $2 billion order unfilled.

From the sports section of the same paper, same edition:

  • The “floor price” for A-Rod – $350 million.
  • Tim Duncan signs a two-year extension with the San Antonio Spurs – $40 million.
  • Sammy Sosa wants $7 million.
  • Bobby Abreau resigns with the New York Yankees for $16 million.
  • Joe Torre signs a three year contract to manage the Los Angeles Dodgers at $13 million.
  • Tim Wakefield continues his long career with the Boston Red Sox – $4 million for next season (a bargain).
  • Julian Tavares, recently left off of the Sox’ World Series roster, is offered and signs an extension for $3.8 million for next season.
  • Curlin, a thoroughbred horse, is involved in some law suit. The judgment – $42 million.
  • The winner of tomorrow’s NYC Marathon will receive $130,000 (chump change), though there is a $.5 million bonus up for grabs.
  • The Indianapolis Colts’ new, tax payer-funded stadium to open next year cost $675 million.
  • Burton Smith purchases the New Hampshire Speedway for $340 million… CASH.

Omit the dog track winnings and purses for races at Suffolk Downs. And there are no numbers listed under the “Transactions” section, but one can imagine a few more zeros would be found here if they were. Matt Stairs resigned with the Toronto Blue Jays. Jason Spezza got a seven-year extension with the Ottawa Senators.

Remember back to the news story last year where it was reported that pallets full of cash were missing in Iraq. Big wads of money. Gone. Millions. I think I found it. In the sports section. On any given Saturday, you can find at least $1.63 billion there. Go ahead. Add it up.

In no way do I advocate the building or buying or selling or supplying of arms to anywhere. I find it uncivilized. Fairly obscene. But almost to the same degree, I find it repugnant that I’m subjected to hypocritical displays of patriotism at sporting events, from fighter jets screaming overhead to the sight of our nation’s flag on steroids, big enough to cover the Prudential Building. I’m sick of having an old favorite, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, replaced with “God Bless America”. I’m tired of all the references to “battle” and “war” and “soldiers” on fields of play. I am weary of being told on one page that money is needed, when it’s so obviously stated on another where the money has gone.

In contrast –
Yesterday’s paper had an obituary for John Woodruff, the grandson of slaves, who won a gold medal in front of the “master race”-spouting Adolf Hitler at the 1936 Olympic games. From that day, when he was 21, until his death at 92, Mr. Woodruff served in two wars (WWII and Korea), commanded two battalions, worked for the New York City Children’s Aid Society, was a teacher, parole officer, welfare investigator, and recreation center director. And he volunteered to be an official at countless track meets. (Boston Globe, November 1, 2007)

In other words, he enjoyed athletic success as a youth and then grew up to serve his country and his community. He contributed to society as an adult. He didn’t merely entertain. And I imagine he never made millions in his lifetime.

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