When anyone says they want to make something great again, generalizations on the subject don’t cut it. Regarding our nation, even the least savvy historian would want to know fairly precisely to which event or period of time the advocate references as a return point to be “great again.” Contender examples, one might argue, would include the end of the Civil War, with the country reunited, the completion of the trans-continental railroad, and the surrender of the Empire of Japan to allied forces led by the United States.
As a guy who’s been hanging around now for several decades, that societal condition to which I’d really appreciate seeing a return, and a return throughout our country, would be a return to true amateur sports. As things have developed here since about 1945, we have drifted, sometimes skidded and, possibly more often, fallen off the amateur sports wagon to a place where, no matter what sport it is, at whatever level, there always appears a mix of gambling stakes involvement, coaches bought and paid for, players demanding payment and often more and more payments for playing a game, charges of game fixing, and the youth players and families being “paid off” to play at a sports-shoe-sponsored league or school.
Leading the way to practices that corrupt almost everyone involved in sports in Oregon would have to include Adidas, a company of German origin with a lot of brick and mortar in Portland, and Nike, having been founded in Oregon with headquarters near Beaverton. Meanwhile, anything resembling amateur involvements for the sake of building bodies, physical prowess and enduring character have been overridden by making the big bucks at the cost of integrity, ethics, fair play and ways of playing sports with entry of the almighty dollar and sports companies by competition-wars and the buying of people.
It’s no longer just the efforts of the major and minor sports-equipment companies that bring colossal fortunes to the playing fields. Now, also, employees who work for big name athletic outfits find it within their range of apparently acceptable-without-a-second-thought predatory practices that go down to high school levels, and even lower, to conspire, manipulate and otherwise further negatively impact our youth who’re frequently into mental health crisis because they’re profoundly depressed by broken-home conditions, wondering when the next AR-15/AK-47 will visit their campus, and the threat of no career because the kids of wealthy parents have bought up all of those for their offspring. Into this environment of those effected by our changing times now come the unscrupulous sports hawkers and vendors, free to spread their destructive temptations.
There may be nothing Oregonians can do about the rapid rise and spread of sports-equipment companies and their often ethics-deprived activities with young men and women once they reach 18-years-of-age and thereafter. However, we should be able to keep these people away from any youth who has not yet reached the age of 18 or remains a student in a high school, public and private. Since the morally shaky among the sports companies are not above or below practicing skullduggery with those they prey upon, new laws by Oregon’s legislators, championed by Governor Kate Brown, should be seriously considered for enactment to protect our youth until they’ve reached an age of majority. The time is now and delays will only result in more harm brought to Oregon’s youth.
(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer. He shares his opinion frequently in the Keizertimes.)