Sports used to be for the people

Bruno Beidacki.

Bruno Beidacki

I remember growing up in Brazil, waking up excited on Sunday mornings, putting my jersey on and patiently waiting for my dad to say it was time to go to the stadium. Soccer is huge back home, so it was a major part of my childhood and teenage years.

At the stadium, I’d see people of all different backgrounds, ethnicities and financial power. Attending a soccer match was just another entertainment option, a choice along with going to the movies or bowling.

Tickets were accessible, parking was a hassle but affordable and concession stands had reasonably-priced hot dogs and soft drinks.

Well, not anymore.

Sports, or at least watching them live, in-person, have unfortunately become a source of entertainment for the wealthy. Even when promotional tickets are made available, one has to use binoculars to distinguish between Lebron James and Kevin Love. Jokes aside, it has become extremely expensive to attend a professional sports game, regardless of the sport in question.

When I went home to Brazil last year, I made my way to the Arena do Gremio, my favorite soccer team’s stadium. The contrast from my experiences growing up was shocking. The hot dogs and burgers were three times more expensive. Water bottles and soft drinks had doubled. The price of everything was significantly higher, even when taking into consideration inflation rates.

It’s not much different in the United States. I took my girlfriend to a Cleveland Cavaliers game during spring break. We had great seats — to put it into perspective, Justin Timberlake was sitting exactly 10 rows below us. I walked to get a drink, only to find out that a can of beer cost $10.00. Basic food items were around that price as well.

Imagine a middle-class family of four wanting to attend a Cavs game. Spending less than $300 in that outing seems virtually impossible, unless you sit in the nosebleeds and stay away from the concession stands.

It shouldn’t be like that. Yes, this is a capitalist country and if arenas are getting packed even when tickets cost hundreds of dollars, that’s how much they will cost. However, we need to realize that sports are a great thing because they unite people. Let’s not forget that the vast majority of professional athletes were once part of the middle and lower classes. They are people who grew up watching the pros and dreaming of being like them.

Taking away these kids’ opportunity to watch their favorite athletes live could lead to a completely different dynamic in the role and influence of sports in our society: a negative one.

It’s time to put aside the greed for a second and realize that the beauty in sports is its diversity and potential to change people’s lives. I want to be able, when I have kids, to take them to watch NBA and NFL games without having to prioritize that over buying new tires or paying for summer camp.

Sports are fun. They bring out the best — and sometimes the worst — from us. Let’s continue allowing kids to learn and grow from it.

Bruno Beidacki is the opinion editor. Contact him at [email protected].