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Empire State Gamed

by on July 27, 2010

Up yours, Schenectady.  You’re being taken to school, Cortland.  And say our name, Yonkers.  The Empire State Games finished Sunday, and I’m proud to report that the Western region either topped the medal count or at least finished in like the top 15.

To be honest, I’m not certain, and I feel it would be hypocritical to feign interest retroactively by checking now.  Still, it’s great that our region’s sportier residents got to talk smack when matched against foes from clearly inferior sections of New York situated in different relative compass directions.

What’s not as inspiring is the uncompetitive nature of a portion of the festival’s endowment.  Specifically, taxpayers backed it whether or not they attended it. Nobody is that pro-volleyball.

Citizens don’t get good value for their mandatory athletic investment.  For one, Games-affiliated recipients of New York’s confiscated largesse should be able to put together a better website.  Their Angelfire-style front page is only missing a Bill Clinton’s first term-era “under construction” icon.  An animated one would be awesome.

The lone useful bit of information provided notes that “The Empire State Games is a program of: Office of New York State Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation.”  To clarify, they are one of countless bureaucratic clusters that get to spend what you earn.  Sadly, the state perpetually medals at the event.

Thankfully, many of the subsidies were voluntarily.  In particular, First Niagara generously kicked in a large portion to compensate for state funding being at its lowest level ever this year.

But New York’s contribution should be at an even lower level next time, namely zero.  Financing a statewide intramural contest is exactly the sort of expenditure that ultimately encourages our athletes to dash out of New York when they can’t find work after the final whistle.

The amount of the state’s contribution is irrelevant.  Everyone shouldn’t have to pay so some may play or watch ball-chasing games.  Such active promotion is well outside government’s domain, even if that’s tricky for the particular government in question to recall.

And the timing couldn’t be better for a game change.  Of course, this state perpetually faces financial calamity.  But lawmakers have remarkably gotten even worse than awful at frittering away capital in the capital.

Still, at least some good may come of it on the slim chance that they collectively gain wisdom.  Namely, their dire profligacy makes this an ideal moment to spin off extraneous spending into the hands of interested private parties.

Taking money from earners so that Hudson Valley residents can prove how proficient they are at fencing relative to their state’s mates epitomizes frivolity.  Alternately, New York can set an example by showing that its athletes can excel without state aid.

People who enjoy the Games needn’t fret: they can just buy tickets.  Those who already do can cough up a bit more.  At the recently-concluded Games, an adult could see everything for 30 bucks, which is too good a deal.  Attendees can spend their tax savings on reasonably pricier seats.

It’s nothing personal: I swear I don’t resent the event just because I was scandalously left off both the track and rugby teams for no good reason except my utter mediocrity in each respective sport during my hazy school days.  To prove my lack of bitterness, I’d support any athletes who rang my bell and asked me to buy chocolate bars in order to fund their clashes.

They can enhance lessons about self-reliance and dedication provided via sweaty contests by obtaining funding for their events themselves.  If they sell enough, they could even reduce or eliminate their own surcharges.

Meanwhile, I can live vicariously though the competitors as I watch us make the other state sectors our bitches while inhaling my chocolate.   I can say “us” as long as I contribute financially; the candy would merely be a bonus.

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