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What is the goal of national sports?

So-con vs. Libertarian

Michael Coren and Karen Selick - September 27, 2004

From: Karen Selick kselick@westernstandard.ca
To: Michael Coren mcoren@westernstandard.ca
Subject: What good are the Olympics, anyway?
Date: Sept. 10, 2004 9:22 AM

Thank goodness the Olympics are over. For another four years I won't have to hear people whining about how, if "we Canadians" want more medals, we have to shovel out more money to "our" athletes. I've never understood nationalism in any of its manifestations--team spirit, flag-waving or protectionism. National borders are artificial lines that serve largely to obstruct free individuals from exercising their natural rights to trade with and visit other free individuals. The fact that some athlete happens to live within the same set of artificial boundaries as me does not make that athlete's achievement mine. I wish Canadian athletes all the best, but I take no personal pride in their medals. As a corollary, I see no reason why I should be forced to subsidize "our" athletes. I'd be prouder of Canada if it stood as a beacon of freedom where people can choose how to spend their own money.

From: Michael Coren mcoren@westernstandard.ca
To: Karen Selick kselick@westernstandard.ca
Subject: re: What good are the Olympics, anyway?
Date: Sept. 10, 2004 12:46 PM

There are two arguments here. Regarding financial support for athletes, the Americans have it right. Massive private donations to colleges and a culture of success enable talented young people to become champions. There is a place for public money helping amateur sports, but it has to be highly selective, such as in Australia. From a purely monetary standpoint, the success of publicly supported athletes in Australia has led to endorsements, tournaments and tourism that far outweigh the initial investment. When it comes to the idea of nations, you need a little help with your geopolitics. Some examples: Britain is a nation because it is an island; France because of racial, linguistic and natural physical borders; the United States because of historical development and settlement. They are no more artificial than a forest or a lake. As for trying to understand nationhood by obsessing about trade, it's like trying to understand sprinting by obsessing about the running shoe.

From: Karen Selick kselick@westernstandard.ca
To: Michael Coren mcoren@westernstandard.ca
Subject: re: What good are the Olympics, anyway?
Date: Sept. 10, 2004 AM 4:36 PM

Myopic as usual, Michael. Sure, there'll always be some positive spinoffs when athletes spend other people's money. But what about the stillborn dreams and projects of the taxpayers whose money was coercively taken from them? Maybe some kid with extraordinary talent or brains will be deprived of swimming or music lessons because his parents will decide that their income, after taxes, won't stretch that far. The proper comparison is not whether the spinoffs produced are greater than the money invested, but whether the spinoffs produced are greater than those that have been foregone. This is something we can never measure. Consequently, the cost-benefit argument for "investing" one person's tax money in another person's pet project is simply fallacious. On borders--so Britain's an island. So what? A taxpayer in Dover may have little in common with an athlete from Newcastle. He may feel greater kinship with an artist in Calais. Why spend his money for him?

From: Michael Coren mcoren@westernstandard.ca
To: Karen Selick kselick@westernstandard.ca
Subject: re: What good are the Olympics, anyway?
Date: Sept. 10, 2004 7:16 PM

You should respond to my arguments, as I do yours, but no matter. You don't really present a viable position for me to refute, so let's discuss something more foundational. You write that human fellowship is more significant than differences of nation, language and belief. History proves you wrong. But there's something deeper here. Libertarian zealots and those I like to call "political accountants" actually believe that we are only bound by the taxes we pay and the trade in which we indulge. This is merely a distorted mirror of the Marxist economics and sociology many of us had to tolerate at university. Life is more complex than that. Of course business is important, but a balance sheet has never inspired any of the greatness, even on the running track, routinely achieved for nation, family or religion. Until and unless you can understand these intrinsic concepts, you will never understand real people and real challenges.

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