In the summer of 1984, the #5 pop song in the United States was Eagles’ Drummer Don Henley’s ‘The Boys of Summer’.
In the tune, Henley waxes melancholy, ‘those days are gone forever / I should just let them go but…’
And so it happens that every July, I ponder the less than Eagle-like popularity of the boys of summer, 1776 version.
This past Independence Day went into the history books much like the last 50 or so, uneventful, uninspirational and irreverent.
It is almost as though the holiday occurs like one of those 40-year wedding anniversaries your grandparents have that you go to for the free food and booze while tolerating the nostalgia.
But fear not, citizen soldier, because the real boys of summer are about to make their debuts: football players.
The NFL and NCAA are warming up their PR machines to give meaning to that ‘freedom’ the boys of summer cooked up in `76. Freedom to dream of trophies, triumph over hated rivals, and for many, their raison d’etre.
These games will of course be played in mammoth stadiums that the greatest of Rome’s tyrants couldn`t dream of building with slave labor; labor that carried with it the benefit of having no carrying costs, but such is not the case today.
Harvard professor Judith Grant Long calculates that the average pro-sports facility in operation today costs the public $259 million, that’s million with an ‘m’. Of course, the subsidy recipients – you know them as owners and by proxy, players – always crow about the elusive ‘boost to the economy’ these hulking pits of public debt create.
Ok, but he national tally for this indentured servitude is $30 billion – with a ‘b’ – and most of this, when put to a vote, is actually voted down, yet the subsidy is committed to and paid by the public anyway.
This, at a time when Detroit, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland and other pro sports cities are bankrupt, overrun with crime and dotted with decaying ‘public institutions’ like schools and parks.
The 1776 version of the boys of summer could never have imagined the aristocratic system their heroic efforts resulted in. Indeed, we might say, ‘all men who don’t own pro-sports stadiums but are forced to pay for them are created equally, in debt.’