Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Thursday, November 18, 2021

kicking, screaming
The above photo, culled from Flickr, came to my attention as a visual accompaniment for this brief essay on self-actualization in the face of bullying.

It’s a curious picture. I get that the bully is getting his kicks — pun intended — by caging his victims inside a metal soccer goal net. But then, to kick a soccer ball at that reversed target? It’s definitely scary and jarring to be subjected to that. And yet it makes for absurd, even comical, imagery. The backward-facing target implies a demented game taking place. Which, I guess, is the point here.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 11/18/2010 11:45pm
Category: Other Sports, Photography, Society
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Today’s New York Times takes a predictably dim view of Dominican Republic youth baseball academies, known as buscones:

At academies run by investors from the United States, the players are typically 13 to 19 years old and forgo formal schooling to train. Several of the players said they would return to school if they were not signed to a professional contract…

These practices are worrisome for critics like David P. Fidler, a professor of international law at Indiana University. “Buscones in the Dominican Republic are in the business of selling children,” he said. “And it’s very disturbing that American investors would come in to profit from a system that exploits and discriminates against young children.”

It struck me that the part about forgoing formal schooling in favor of athletic development is reminiscent of another sports-development system, in another country: The Canadian Hockey League.

The CHL is the chief talent feed for the National Hockey League, and the three junior leagues that comprise it operate pretty much the same way as buscones do. The main difference is the age of entry — the Ontario, Quebec, and Western leagues typically wait until their kids are in their late teens. But indeed, not only do those players leave home, they also give up regular school in favor of full-time hockey.

So why criticize what goes on in the Caribbean, and not what goes on north of the border? The basic concept is the same. The difference is in the socioeconomic setting.

Canada is a developed country, and the kids who are drafted into the junior ranks tend to come from middle-class and higher households — therefore, there’s no characterization of those kids “being sold”. Whereas the Dominican Republic is a third world country, the kids there are impoverished, and so these actions are viewed as exploitative. It’s a double standard.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 11/18/2010 11:04pm
Category: Baseball, Business, Hockey, Society
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