The following is a kneejerk response to an article I recently read. The article’s purpose was to promote a book written by a local author, which is great. It also triggered me in a good way, which is also great. I’ve checked the ebook out of Toronto Public Library and maybe I will post again after I finish reading it.
It sounds like the book looks at where public money goes in terms of funding infrastructure for sports, and that old white money gets funding, while others do not. Hockey arenas get built, but basketball courts and cricket pitches get neglected.
From what I gather, the focus of the book is that sports can build communities, improve economic opportunities, and basically be a force for good. It’s like funding the arts: it is a good investment.
Anyway, thanks certainly go out to Perry King for writing the book in the first place. It’s called Rebound, and is available from Coach House Books.
Here’s my pre-read rant/response to the article.
Stop gun violence? Maybe “bribe” hoods by saying “turn in 50 handguns, and we’ll build a new basketball court”.
The Pan Am Games cost Ontario $2.5 Billion1. I am sure they were “sold” to the public with false claims of building the infrastructure discussed in the article (and housing!), but what they amounted to was a very expensive traffic jam.
The infrastructure highlight from that amounts to a hiking trail that was a pet project of Kathleen Wynne. Miss Wynne earmarked $2.5 million for the Pan Am/Parapan Am Trails.
How many basketball courts could have been built with $2.5 Billion, or even $2.5 million for that matter?
And if we’re going to be discussing billions of dollars, Toronto, and building communities, surely Rogers must be brought into the discussion.
Rogers is based in Toronto, and generally reports profits of about $1 Billion/quarter.2 So they’ve got some serious stakes in the game.
Rogers infamously paid $5.232 billion for the rights to point cameras at millionaires sitting on a bench and spitting on ice. Surely a Toronto-based company with that sort of spare change can, and should, “give back to the community by giving back to the community”.3
And let’s not forget that Rogers bought what was formerly known as SkyDome for less than nickels on the dollar. Literally. The dome was financed mostly through public money and cost around $570 million to build, but Rogers picked it up for about $25 million.
In effect, Rogers was given over half a Billion dollars in corporate welfare when they “purchased” SkyDome. How many basketball courts could that kind of money build?
For perspective, Rogers also owns the Blue Jays, and currently pays their center fielder $29 million/year or so.4 I suspect you could cover the outfield of Rogers Centre with $29 million worth of basketballs quite easily.
And just imagine what $29 million could do for an “at-risk neighbourhood”, especially when you consider that the federal government thinks investing $1 million will revitalize Little Jamaica!5
Also consider that the current mayor of Toronto has a very long and cozy relationship with Rogers. As a matter of fact, Toronto’s mayor is currently still on the Rogers’ payroll and apparently takes home a cool $100K/year while sitting as mayor. That’s in addition to the nearly $200K/year or so in public money that he receives as mayor.6
Toronto’s current mayor was infamously accused of taking a day off of his duties as mayor to referee a very public family dispute within the Rogers family.7 Something tells me that “building basketball courts” rarely appears on his “to-do list”.
This is the sort of think I expect to read about in Rebound. Let me dive in and get back to you…
(Author photo by Jalani Morgan)
3 this is a Jello Biafra quote. i thought it was from his spoken word piece entitled Rob Now, Pay Later but i was wrong. Regardless, the words for Rob Now, Pay Later are worth repeating here:
“Some day even the experts will figure out that crime is not caused by rap music, or even my music!, but by a power structure of self-absorbed property owners so brain dead and stupid they won’t even see that if you’re too damn greedy to pay taxes for schools and services, they’re not going to be any good anymore! And that uneducated time bombs are a very poor investment as a future work force. And if you go on teaching people that life is cheap, and leave them to rot in ghettos and jails, they may one day feel justified in coming back to rob and kill you. Duh!”