Apigian-Kessel: Sold Out!

It was a busy week of watching sporting events, both professional and collegiate, taking place in magnificent venues. Someone has to win and someone has to lose. So whose side should God be on?

Anyone keeping their finger on the pulse of this nation’s economy knows very well that we are in the grips of a deep recession with no real promise of going back to the previous level of prosperity any time soon. And yet, every sporting event I watched on TV was “Sold Out!” So, apparently there still is a lot of expendable income out there.

Pricey restaurants keep mushrooming in ritzy downtown Birmingham with special heating units to keep the wealthy patrons cozy and warm as they dine alfresco with huge TV’s mounted for their sports-viewing pleasure.

Lately I have seen far too many people standing by the road with signs begging for money to buy food. I cannot attest to the legitimacy of their needs.

I don’t consider attendance at sporting events a vital part of one’s existence, when people are losing their homes to foreclosure and one of seven children in this country are going hungry. World hunger should not be tolerated but fundraisers should be to feed Americans first.

All I know is in this rich country, where expenditures are spoken of being in the billions of dollars, no one should be hungry or homeless. We need to take care of our own. Children are fed in school because there is a lack of food in their home. What a disgrace, and everyone in Washington and Wall Street should be ashamed of their fat-cat lifestyle. But one would need a conscience for that.

The gap between the wealthy and those who used to be middle-class, now probably defined as the poor, has widened. Sold-out sporting events are just one indicator of this decadence.

Just who are these people with excess income who are paying hundreds—or even thousands—of dollars to watch teams compete for a trophy?

I watched the Michigan State Spartans vs. the Wolverines of the University of Michigan play at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, which has a seating capacity of 75,005 but has held 80,000. Every seat in the house was, yes, “Sold Out!” The school spirit of the students and alumni on this famous football rivalry was a sight to behold and hear. Winning always feels good, and on this day Michigan State trounced Michigan for the fourth year in a row. Sold Out!

Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor—”The Big House”—has a seating capacity of 109,901, and when they recently played Notre Dame it held 114,804 fans, band members, and stadium workers. Sold Out!

The Tigers fought valiantly against the Texas Rangers, but lost their bid for the championship again to a Sold Out! audience. Comerica Park, where the Tigers play, has a capacity of 41,225. Sold Out!

The Detroit Lions have roared back to respectability this year with a five win, one loss record, and every game has been to a Sold Out! fan base. The home of the Lions is Ford Field, which seats 65,000 for a game. Sold Out!

So what should I tell the 10-year-old boy I met at the K-Mart who was looking at a beautiful three-wheeled blue bike with a large basket mounted on the back, like seniors or the physically challenged would use. I asked him if he liked the bike. I had already checked the price of a robust $339.00.

He said to me, “I could put my dog in the back of this bike.”

“Did you see the price?” I asked. He looked at the tag and with what I suspect was no concept of the price, he just looked back at me.

I said, “Don’t you think that is a lot of money?” He shrugged his shoulders and nodding his head, said, “I think we are poor. Yeah, we are poor.”

And with that comment he broke my heart.

That kid deserved that bike, but his parents are out of work and it will forever haunt me when I see people sitting in a sports arena drinking $5 beers and eating $5 hot dogs and nachos, their faces painted with team colors while wearing $200 varsity jackets.

It leaves me wondering what caused this great divide between the haves and the have-nots, leaving a large portion of this country disillusioned and Sold Out!

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Betty Apigian-Kessel

Betty (Serpouhie) Apigian Kessel was born in Pontiac, Mich. Together with her husband, Robert Kessel, she was the proprietor of Woodward Market in Pontiac and has two sons, Bradley and Brant Kessel. She belonged to the St. Sarkis Ladies Guild for 12 years, serving as secretary for many of those years. During the aftermath of the earthquake in Armenia in 1988, the Detroit community selected her to be the English-language secretary and she happily dedicated her efforts to help the earthquake victims. She has a column in the Armenian Weekly entitled “Michigan High Beat.”

1 Comment

  1. good call on the nachos, they are gross and overpriced
    meanwhile $100k/yr jobs go begging in North Dakota (disclosure: you need to pass a drug test), yesterday’s broke dropout is now a software millionaire (the injustice!), and your Kmart Billy can buy that bike at any rummage sale for less than the sales tax at the store
    thank God for Wall Street

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