Weekly Review 6/21/13

\”First world stadiums, sildenafil sovaldi third world schools\”\n\nIt was a pretty slow news week for sports, healing sales politics, drugstore and culture in Chicago, but a pretty big one for sports and social justice worldwide.\n\nWhat began as a smaller protest in response to bus fare hikes in Brazil has erupted into a large scale demonstration (with estimates in the millions of people) against mega sporting events that will cost the country more than $50 billion.\n\nAt least that what Dave Zirin estimates the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games will cost Brazil when it’s all said and done.  Watch Zirin and other informed commentators discuss the situation in this segment from Al Jazeera English (via The Nation).\n\nAll the Chicago Sport and Society favorites covered this story this week.\n\nOn his Nation blog, Zirin informs us: \”This isn’t a movement against sports. It’s against the use of sports as a neoliberal Trojan horse. It’s a movement against sports as a cudgel of austerity.”\n\nNeil deMause writes that the uprising in Brazil—a country run by a leftist government that inherited this mess from the previous populist regime: “just goes to show that government subsidies to major sports organizations aren’t a left or a right thing, they’re a systemic ‘resist the power of the global sports-industrial complex at your peril’ thing.”\n\nAnd Travis Waldron explains: \”the protesters are telling the story Brazil and the world are trying so desperately to ignore. Despite claims of a coming economic bonanza, the World Cup cannot and will not solve the problems facing millions of Brazilians: crumbling schools, low wages, poor health programs, and increasing inequality.\”\n\nAll of this sounds eerily familiar to Chicagoans.  Well, I guess the government in Chicago never put up the kind of taxpayer money for sporting events that Brazil/Rio de Janeiro has for the World Cup and the Olympics, but they almost did!\n\nStill, maybe the Chicago/Brazil analogy isn’t that far off.\n\nI chose the headline \”first world stadiums, third world schools\”—which appeared on a sign held by a Brazilian demonstrator— for this WR because I thought it was a fitting description of the situation on Chicago’s south and west sides.  These areas are home to state-of-the-art taxpayer financed stadiums in U.S. Cellular Field and the United Center.  Nearby are racially segregated communities of concentrated poverty, where conditions might be described as “third world” and the city is closing schools.\n\nSo while Chicago’s “neoliberal Trojan horse” might be a shabby wooden rabbit by comparison, the effect is essentially the same.\n\nMaybe we should start hosting our own grassroots, independent sporting events in protest, like some Brazilians are doing.\n\nUpdate: The latest on the protests from Travis Waldron at Think Progress.\n

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\nWhat do Joakim Noah and broomball at Warren Park have in common?  They’re both part of this year’s “Best of Sports and Rec” from the Chicago Reader, that’s what.  Click around; take some time to get to know our city’s sports and sports people more intimately.  The compilation includes contributions from some our favorite not-necessarily-sports writers: Ben Joravsky, Steve Bogira, and Mick Dumke.\n

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\nGame 6 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday feels like one that people will always remember where they were; the night the underdog San Antonio Spurs had all but defeated the despised Miami Heat (whose fans, according to the Onion, are either indifferent or evil incarnate) before those two offensive rebounds and two three pointers in the waning seconds of regulation time.\n\nI was at the Candlelite on Western Ave. in Rogers Park, where a small number of Heat fans, dejected and being taunted with one minute left in the fourth quarter, performed a wacky celebration dance at the conclusion of overtime that would have been embarrassing in any other circumstance.\n\nMeanwhile, The Classical’s Mark Macyk was on a subway in Philadelphia with a drunk guy

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