Dave Zirin, author of Edge of Sports, penned "Monument to a Rotten System" on AlterNet in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. An excerpt:

The Superdome is perhaps the most unintentionally appropriate name since Mr. and Mrs. Cheney looked at their newborn son and said, "Dick." It was birthed in 1975 with pomp and bombast, as the largest domed facility in the world. It was also funded entirely on the public dime.

In a case of brutal foreshadowing that would shame a B horror flick, the dome was constructed on an old cemetery for the poor. The burial grounds were dug up and discarded with a promise that the Superdome would the centerpiece of a New Orleans Central Business District that would benefit all. The results are certainly now in plain, ugly view. This past week, 25,000 people, walked through its doors, many for the first time. They entered a stadium where tickets go for $90 a pop, season passes cost $1,300 and luxury boxes can run for as much as $109,000.

The arena boasts of having a capacity that can comfortably seat 72,000 people, with 9,000 tons of air conditioning, and 88 massive restrooms. But for the 25,000 who can't afford the oxygen, there has been no air conditioning and bathrooms without electricity, running water or working toilets. Feces and garbage now pack the upper decks. The traumatized people finally emerging tell of dead bodies on the 50-yard line. One man even committed suicide, throwing himself off the upper deck.

Democratic Governor Kathleen Blanco called the Superdome shelter strategy an "experiment" when asked if it could hold the storm or the flood. Chuck D's line about housing projects comes to mind when he said, "What is a project but another word for experiment?"

I'll juxtapose John Bale (1994, p. 83) here:

Reading Foucault's history of the prison, Discipline and Punish (1979), I was struck by the great similarity between the transition of punishment on the one hand, and of sport on the other, each being transformed from activities undertaken in corporal/public space to those found in carceral/private space. … Indeed, the stadium is regarded as such a secure form of containment that it is, intact, actually used as a prison in times of national security or repression.


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  1. sportsBabel » What Is a Stadium? says:

    [...] found in the most extreme version of the camp and how they, in their metamorphosis to the ludic arena, may also be found to structure and govern the biopolitics of those most purportedly noble pursuits [...]