Tuesday, December 19, 2006

THE MIND NUMBING BANALITY
OF PROFESSIONAL SPORTS!

Imagine arriving on Earth after lightyears of travelling through space and time to find that the alpha inhabitants reward and revere 'adults playing children's games' as some of the most valuable members of the species?

WTF?!!!




After reviewing the Forbes Wealthiest Athletes list I realised how stupid we would look and I have no doubt that the extraterrestrials would not hesitate to annihilate us. http://www.forbes.com/2004/06/23/04athletesland.html


The top two are Tiger Woods & Michael Schumacher $80 M each, and Golf and Auto Racing are such testaments to physical prowess!

Seriously, why do we sit back and let people hitting, throwing and catching spherical objects, or worse yet driving cars, make tens of millions of dollars?

It is absolutely embarrassing considering the REAL problems that plague our species.

Christopher Lasch wrote about Sports in his mind blowing book The Culture of Narcissism (1978)

" Games enlist skill and intelligence,
the utmost concentration of purpose,
on behalf of activities utterly useless,
which make no contribution to the struggle of man against nature,
to the wealth or comfort of the community,
or to it's physical survival."

Lasch goes on to say that,
"Sports substitute ideal conditions for the normal confusion of everyday life, recreating the the freedom and perfection of childhood and marking it off from ordinary life with artificial boundaries."

"It's appeal is it's artificiality!"

Instead of rewarding people who give their heart, mind and souls to bettering the living conditions of all human beings we pay exhorbitant prices for tickets or through advertisers whoring themselves for our eyeballs so that Corporations can afford to pay athletes these outrageous sums of money to play games!

We totally deserve it.

I think that Sports will start to slide in popularity as the sheer hypocrisy of the spectacle, and it's vapid value in and of itself, will lose ground to other more cerebral forms of entertainment.

"What began as an attempt to invest sport with religious significance, indeed to make it a surrogate religion in it's own right, ends with the demystification of sport, the assimilation of sport to show business."

Just think about what could be accomplished if all of this money was redirected to helping others. I think that we Earthlings deserve to be evicted.
We are ridiculous for allowing this spectacle to get so far out of hand...

don't you think that this is completely insane???!

31 comments:

  1. I agree wholeheartedly.. My theory is a salary cap that is ridiculously low and any compnay that wants to pay them ridiculous amounts for endorsing their product so be it. And further to that if they make mistakes such as missed free throws in basketball they should have to pay back some money. They have lost sight of the real point and that is they are getting paid to PLAY A GAME they love or so they say.
    If they set some salary caps maybe we the working world might be able to afford to go see a game without spending an entire days paycheque.
    OOOOO you hit one of my nerves with this one.........

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  2. It's not just sports...what about movie and rock "stars", etc.? Why does anyone need to earn $20 million + a year? I don't get it.

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  3. FREE THROWS!!!
    They don't call them FREE for Nothing! Ho do you miss a free throw when you play professional basketball and you are 6'9"???
    Even I can sink a free throw!
    You are right what if athletes had to meet goals like ordinary people..how many of those guys would actually still be playing?
    WHAT A JOKE!

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  4. angela,
    I know..now that movies and music are virtually free (pun intended) those Rock Stars have to make all of their money touring...the Rolling Stones are still breaking records (pun intended) but the old days of making $2 on every album sold are gone!
    Movie stars are slowly losing their mojo too...CGI and the amazing discovery that there are literally thousands of Excellent no-name actors out there have watered down the Marquee value of the once irreplaceable STAR SYSTEM.
    boo hoo.

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  5. Anonymous12:18 PM

    I am sickened of the whole thing.
    Maybe becos I am not a STAR earning millions...

    :D

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  6. Anonymous1:25 PM

    i agree that star athletes are OBSCENELY overpaid, but that doesn't negate the value of sports to society. (it just means the pay-structure needs reform.)

    humans are a naturally competitive species. we've been fighting since before we were home erectus. we fight about everything. we are CONSTANTLY ATTEMPTING TO ESTABLISH DOMINANCE. we try to establish dominace as individuals within our own group, and we attempt to establish our group's dominance over other groups.

    sports enable us to act out competitions for dominance in a (relatively) safe, controlled way. If it weren't for football, there would be a LOT more warfare.

    Sports are a microcosm of an ideal society: everyone knows the rules, willingly submits to the rules, and acts in accordance to them; and if someone breaks the rules there is an established system to evaluate the infraction and hand out punishemnt which is instantaneous and accepted (if somewhat grudgingly at times) by the participants. And at the end of the contest there is a universal acceptance of who has achieved dominance.

    At the end of the day we're really all just a bunch of baboons with some fancy stadiums and equipment. And a fan base worth billions. :-)

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  7. reysoutine is late for an appointment2:07 PM

    i think sports in general is a wonderful idea, team concept, brings people together, work towards a common goal, strive for excellence and all that.
    the problem in my view is the commercialization of sports and the idea of giving a sporty type who knows nothing about a product a tonne of money to endorse it. it's average jane who pays the tab for the tens of billions of dollars in advertising in north america annually. i bet we could all take a wonderful vacation every year if we weren't subsidizing extravagant lifestyles all the time. (where's your ultimate destination, by the way?)

    another issue i have is players and, for lack of a beter word, apologists lamenting about the likelihood of a very short career, thereby legitimizing the high salaries. i say try being a cop or a firefighter or a soldier. that has the potential for a very short life.

    and again, there's the stupid athletes who make every other one look even worse.

    i think it was curtis joseph (NHL hockey goalie) who said no to a pay cut, because how was he supposed to go home and look his wife in the eye and tell her that he would be making less money the next year? granted, it may have been a big pay cut, in the order of a couple of million dollars or so....down to six million from 8 million or something like that.
    w/w could probably fill us in on that one.

    it is truly an artificial world though.
    oh, another thing, yes, i'd agree that sports has been demystified and become simply show business. the money is just too huge to not have that happen. jokers who are paid several million dollars a year prance around like morons every time they make the play THEY ARE PAID TO MAKE.
    at least in soccer, i can understand running the length of the field when you score a goal, as it only happens a couple of times a game. but i am so sick and tired of watching football players do some rehearsed dance after every stinking tackle that i just don't watch the game anymore (well, that and i don't have cable TV). and then when i do watch, it's like i'm getting smacked in the head with a 2 by 4 with every commercial. my new favourite is that timex commercial that tells you that your identity is in.....
    your WATCH!

    sigh, anyway, i'm losing focus here. gone are the days of guys who just had a natural talent and love of a game who went out and played it. now it's simply 'hit the high performance centre and train your ass off (and your childhood away) and we'll see where you will most succeed" (ie. make the most money (for you and our advertisers)).

    argh, anyway, the point i was trying to make is that sports isn't being invested with a religious significance, it's being invested with a tribal significance and has become a substitute for war. us against them. broadcasters whip up a fervour over 'our team' and use it to manipulate emotionally starved individuals (generally, testosterone heavy men of warrior age) into equating the objectives of their football team with those of the corporations represented by their government.

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  8. gautami,
    Me too, talk about sour grapes!
    Actually I understand that it is big business but the hyperbole is outof this world now..what does the greatest mean anymore pffft and the idea of an athletic role model is DEAD AS A DOORNAIL!

    chaucer's bitch,
    If it weren't for football where would all of the HOOLIGANS go?Do you think that they'd just run wild through the streets? The event itself is the rallying cry for anarchy and alcohol driven senseless violence!

    Soccer matches are warzones now! Thousands of Police officers are required to control the potential mayhem.
    When I was in Belgium in the 70s the Brits were already banned from attending matches ffs.

    It may or may not be a viable substitute for warfare, the US spends $440 BILLION on it's military and that is far more than the big four NBA/NFL/MLB and NHL took in last year...
    btw the average salary of the big four is $2.9M per annum...

    Amateur sports are essential to build character cooperation and physical fitness..the leap to the biggies exposes and aggravates a serious flaw not only in our biology but in our social structure.

    reyspoutine,
    AHA! We are all sickened by the sheer avarice of professional athletes..especially because they are not subject to the scrutiny of the day to day remuneration of joe six pack.

    I read that Gordie Howe would get his new contract and add $1000 every year and send it in..until he found out how much thr Rocket was getting!!!

    Our own Golden Jet, Bobby Hull, helped escalate the entire procedure with his $1M signing at the corner of Portage and Main with an upstart league that was challenging the NHL.

    Ticket pricing & Salaries have killed our chance of ever having an NHL team and so many surveys have proven that professional sports teams add NOTHING to local communities they actually SIPHON money away from important social programs.

    Whateverpeg would be far better off and more respected globally for being a role model in dealing with Poverty, Crime and other social ills rather than having a bloody hockey team.

    *Did I mention that Sporting Events would NOT even exist without the sale of ALCOHOL!

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  9. Its funny look at working class (anywhere), they can remember the most intimate sports stats, shoe sizes, number of games, runs, times they have changed wife. Yet are ignorant (generalisation) of world events or politics... I am not sure if it is artificial nature or is it just a distraction as the problems that face our world are too much to handle..

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  10. Anonymous4:46 PM

    I agree with you that the popularity of sports will continue to slide.

    I used to be a huge sports fan. But now, I have just found better things to do than watch or keep up with sports. It wasn't a concerted effort on my part, it just sort of happened over time.

    But then, if we are to be critical of sports, should we not be critical of say, actors and musicians who make as much if not more, and provide as little, or in some cases less to humanity? Paris Hilton.

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  11. I've never been all that big on sports, but I have the same beef about rock concerts. I remember going to just about every rock concert that interested me when I was in high school and college. They were so much more affordable at $25-$30 a ticket. Now they all seem to start at $80-$120. What the hell is that about?? Yeah yeah, I know - record sales are nearly non-existent. Somehow that doesn't appease me.

    Excellent post, by the way.

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  12. Anonymous5:19 PM

    "If it weren't for football where would all of the HOOLIGANS go?"

    Lord knows, but they'd find someplace. Football doesn't create hooligans, it just channels them and gives their energy a focus. Do you really think all those idiots would be mild-mannered, demure men if it weren't for football? Of course not! They be starting bar brawls and riots and god knows what else.

    "It may or may not be a viable substitute for warfare, the US spends $440 BILLION on it's military and that is far more than the big four NBA/NFL/MLB and NHL took in last year..."

    I didn't say it eliminated warfare, but giving all that testosterone an outlet that doesn't involve ICBMs and M-1 tanks has got to be helping at least a little.

    "Amateur sports are essential to build character cooperation and physical fitness..the leap to the biggies exposes and aggravates a serious flaw not only in our biology but in our social structure."

    Exactly. That's why I said the pay structure needs major reorganization. No athlete should ever be paid more than a firefighter or public school teacher. But that's not the fault of sports in general; that's the fault of the way the business is conducted.

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  13. **Seriously, why do we sit back and let people hitting, throwing and catching spherical objects, or worse yet driving cars, make tens of millions of dollars?

    I always thought abt this HE. I always wondered why money goes to such hideous places when so much more is needed elsewhere. Like u said, imagine if we spent all this money on making this Earth a better place for everyone? I always wondered that! TY so much for this GREAT post...I guess Im not the only one then.


    Keshi.

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  14. grumblus maximus9:05 PM

    Argh! Such vituperations, such
    kvetching. There's _SUPPOSED_ to be a reality-free DMZ around what
    passes for the luminary set. Maybe
    there are a bunch of unheralded,
    superstar insurance agents, or some
    schit-hot actuarials or a few uber-office admins out there, just trying to stay amused (a central
    theme, eh, HE?) while secretly
    admitting that one more or less
    of their profession won't really
    matter. $100M/yr salaries means
    that every M/W/C in the US has to
    ante up their $0.33 (less than a postage stamp costs here) to keep
    the blingathon going, but in return, they get rights to bitch and moan about dropped passes, flat tires, and huge salaries.
    Priceless! A virtual trailer park
    awaits us, only a few clicks of the remote away. The less one likes
    a sport or celebrity, the louder
    the bitching - and it's pretty much free! So pass the Chee-tos,
    have another mediocre beer, and
    fer Chrissakes, leave the %$#$ed
    remote alone;-)

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  15. It's just all such a BIG WANK.

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  16. Yes, amen. Always have. Its at least as dumb as those slave killing games they played in the olden days. People are still dying in the stadiums, only the stadiums are many countries away, and unless we turn on our tv's we don't have to see the bleeding.

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  17. It seems you have struck a nerve with all on this topic HE. It does not surprise me despite the fact many of us dream about making the big leagues or becoming stars in our field but it is truly because we want to live the dream fairytale that many of those people do. 18 years old and signing for $27 million dollars. I cannot even comprehend that. Money can be the root of all evil but i would'nt know because i am still a poor sharecroppers son...I just feel that many of us change careers throughout our lifetime, why can't they retrain for some new challenges as well. 5 minutes of fame...we all deserve it..Quit hogging my time......

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  18. brilliantly stated h.e.! i couldn't agree more... then again, if my damien was a multi-millionaire gymnast i'd probably be whistling another story!

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  19. chaucers bitch has it nailed. i'm surprised nobody brought up the movie 'rollerball'...not the new one, the good one with james caan. interesting message there about the corporate use of enforced group identification, sublimation of individual identity and aggression... and god, weren't the sets AWESOME??? id'a killed for Jonathan's crib.

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  20. Anonymous4:48 PM

    absolutely..only very few people getting the big chunks..totally unfair...but i guess thats how it is!!

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  21. Anonymous12:32 AM

    I still want to be a movie star when I grow up. ;p

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  22. Anonymous3:47 AM

    hell yeh! The get 100 billion bucks a year, adopt some malnourished kid from Africa and theyre the next big thing. I say we must stop this branding and brand consciousness stuff. Sometimes its good to think that CHina is counterfeiting most of the branded sports items. The thing about snobs like Schumacer and the soccer players are they have a relatively short lfie span in sports. Byt the time they hit 35 theyre out and they burn away the money in an equally fast time. Gog Bless us humans.

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  23. Well, at least they're more entertaining than the old-style gods and anyone with a TV remote control is a high priest.

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  24. Hi HE
    This is a very good post!
    I do agree with you, and they all earn way too much money!
    WAY too much!

    But, I do love baseball, as my son has played ever since he was a little kid.
    He had always wanted to be a pro baseball player.
    He has now decided he wants to study medicine...
    But, if he had become a pro baseball player and made some big bucks, I have no doubt he would have used some of the money he made to do some good!
    (He is just that type of person)

    Thank you for your kind comment on
    Christmas poem!
    You are too kind!
    Happy Holidays!

    Margie

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  25. I think you just hurt WW's feelings. :)

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  26. aidan,
    It drives me crazy that so many FANatics invest more time and energy into following the exploits of their Team than their tangible family.
    Sure we all need entertainment but if you know more about some athlete than you do about your wife or children..or worse yet live for getting away from them to go to the game..you need help.

    anonymousoctopus,
    Absolutely we should withold our hard earned dollars and force every aspect of the Entertainment world to bow down to our demands...Sports was once affordable entertainment for the whole family and an enjoyable outting...now after paying hundreds of dollars to bring the kids you are sitting in a the midst of a drunken mob cursing at the players and ...you know what I mean...I have totally lost interest..but I do love the World Junior Hockey that plays during the christmas break...young unspoiled talent giving their all..fabulous.

    anna,
    I have stubs from Aerosmith and BeeGees concerts that were $7! Clapton is coming in a few months, who I saw playing with Knoffler a few years back, and tickies are over $100...so unless the Repeatles get together, my post on the Beatle Offspring forming a band, as Louis B Meyer succinctly said, "You can include me out!"

    chaucer's bitch,
    Yes, Yes and Yes.
    Hooligans should be lobotomized and neutered anyway..dead enders.
    I would love to see professional athletes paid in authentic dollars...our Canadian Football League is about as close to ordinary as you can get...and yes if everybody brought big business to it's knees by not paying attention or exhorbitant prices for tickets then it might change..but it won't and I am just howling in the wind.

    keshiroo,
    It's basic supply and demand economics and economy of scale but CRIKEY (is that how you spell it?)
    it is embarrassing to think that so much money is squandered on such crap. We pay as much for season's tickets as most Earthlings earn in an entire year...no wonder the developing world hates us!

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  27. maximus,
    I lerrve the way that you write..I am well aware that I shouldn't stick my nose where angels fear to tread but geeez!
    The great unwashed deserve their 3 hours of instant replays and beer commercials. Far be it for me to deny them such formidably innocuous recreation...but think of all of the livers that I would save if my message was accepted!

    lee,
    They are wanking all the way to the bank!

    joyce,
    I realise how much the developing world hates us everytime I watch a sporting spectacle on the telly...plus the kids kicking around a ball in the slums of ____know that it might be the only way out of their prison of poverty (other than crime)so there are always 3 sides to every story.
    I just wish that we could adjust ourselves accordingly and distribute the wealth...geez I sound like a bloody Marxist!
    You know what I mean..a little moderation never hurt anyone.

    hodedoor,
    Ah yes but Sports Stars have a limited window of opportunity and a short shelf life..like all celebrities they are quickly tossed into the rubbish heap if they run afoul of the great unwashed...unless you had a spectacular career or reinvented a sport you are only as goo as your last game...or of course if you branch out and BRAND yourself.

    angel,
    Here's hoping! Hockey Moms are far more terrifying to me than any mugger..I can still hear Mrs._____ screaming from the sidelines about what a little pussy I was out on the Ice...and when my girls got into Rythmic Gymnastics the Stage Moms were monstrous! Even though I could have saved thousands of dollars on meals because of all of the purging I yanked them out after 1 season.

    first nations,
    Rollerball...that was a beauty! Remember when it made a comeback back in the 80s? Wow I applaud you for having the ability to salvage an interesting and invaluable message from such a film...I confess that I don't remember the crib because Racquel Welch.....
    what where was I..oh yeah, I guess that I should watch it again and try to remember the part about the crib where Raquel.....

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  28. white forest,
    Hello. Even the all star gladiators were huge celebrities..although having to kill someone at a private show in a richman's home would be considered extremely surreal...I look at the new really violent sports that are being developed and I wonder if we are on our way back to the colloseum?

    Irene,
    ..and you will be a huge movie star someday and you won't forget the little people like me who paid their $8 to see every movie that you ever made...will you?

    ghosty,
    Aha you have exposed the karmic boomerang of life that takes away as quickly as it gives. Those huge EGOs need a lot of cash to maintain their artificial superiority and when that runs out...crash!
    China will continue to knock off everything until the cows come home and who is going to stop them?
    Imagine how many kids could be fed and schooled for $80! Hmmm

    kyknoord,
    Always nice to hear from you sir. I suppose that it is an alternative to other forms of crap but Sports seems to get some sort of exemption, like religion, and is treated as a right in many parts of the world...the tribal/nationality crap scares me.
    I think that the Olympics should remove all of the flags and just be about the athletes..who would be allowed to use steroids...let's see once and for all how fast those buggers can really go!

    margie,
    I am not whitewashing all athletes there are many who reinvest their good fortune back into the world and they deserve applause.
    You are the nice laaady from Coloradee...sorry to hear about the storms! Brutal...I fell guilty because we are having such a mild winter..well today is officially the first day but that is so useless..it has been winter here for over a month.
    Stay warm and off of the roads.

    andrea,
    Don't worry about WW he agrees 100%..besides he is the master of making athletes seem like human beings and not just specimens of physical prowess..he is an awesome writer with a gift for showing the reader WHO that person is and what makes them tick..besides he is a huge Commie Pinko Radical who should be living out west with all of you other extremists.
    Sincerely,
    The Prairie Centrist.

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  29. A new study just out says the brain's makeup makes it impossible for any person, even the highest paid pro athletes, to translate practice (like throwing 1,000 free throws a week) into game success.

    It says our brain has evolved to treat every physical test as a brand new challenge, and that's why practice does NOT make perfect.

    But that's just an aside.

    I know I'm totally late with this, and I wish I had commented earlier.

    As a sportswriter who has covered Olympic Games, world championships in most sports, NHL hockey Stanley Cups and Canadian Football League Grey Cups, I agree with virtually every word you've uttered here.

    But I think the largest point is being missed. The reason these athletes are being paid millions is because the population is shelling out the gazillions to go watch them.

    And the reason we go and watch them is because of our need for community, to root for OUR team, and the other guys are the BAD guys, and it's us vs. them.

    We live vicariously through them to some extent, and there's also the STAR factor that some commenters have rightly pointed out relating pro sports to Entertainment Tonight and movie stars, etc.

    We're the ones who put these people up on pedestals. And you have to admit, most of them ARE super achievers. They can do what we can't, otherwise wouldn't we be doing the same?

    Athletes are some of the most determined, focused, disciplined, exceptional people I know. They aren't stupid. If they can play a game they love, and get paid megabucks to do it, why wouldn't they?

    Even in the earliest ages, we had a need to watch sport. It's built into us. We need to see what people can do, beyond what we can do, and we're amazed by it.

    To some extent, we do like the blood and the gore and the spectacle of watching heavy physical combat in a variety of forms, and sport acts as a so-called "civilized" way of us acting out our animal instincts.

    Big business and the corporate world know this, which is why they buy into teams and then market them -- and pay the athletes -- the way they do.

    Like most everything else, it's about money and profit to be had because of the nature of who we are.

    It's complicated, but really quite simple. It goes far beyond the question of how all this money being spent on sport could be going to Darfur or Sudan or starving people elsewhere.

    Thanks, HE, for what you said about my writing. I DO try to do that because I believe athletes genuinely are high achievers that to some extent we look up to, with good reason for doing so.

    Sorry it took me so long to respond. A great post and a real dialogue went on here. I liked the comments from Chaucer's Bitch most, I think...

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  30. Crikey it is! :)

    Keshi.

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  31. within,
    That new study reminds me of the Foreigner song
    "It feels like the first time!"
    You are right that Joe Sixpack deserves everything that he gets because he keeps shelling out his hard earned pennys to watch somebody else play games and share the glory by living vicariously through his 'heroes'.
    Athletes do deserve credit for their dedication and perserverence and many of them do give up the best years of their lives training in obscurity and social isolation..that being said most average guys and gals in the work a day world do the same keeping the sewers open, streetlights on, shelves stocked..and they are paying for the athlete's ticket so those Superstars need to realise that they are working for us!

    keshiroo,
    Crikey you have Christmas in SUMMA!!!! That is bizarre.

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