Throughout the 70s, 80s and half of the 90s I was a rabid Bills fan. Then something happened. I started working at one of the stadium’s many concession stands as a volunteer for my church, and actually went to the stadium every home game.
In the process I grew older, and perhaps, less interested in the physicality of football because I could more easily appreciate what the body blows from 300-pound linemen were doing to other players. I could more easily sense the aches that will never go away for guys not out of their twenties.
Perhaps it was because I got tired of serving food to crude, impatient, rowdy, overweight and often drunk fans. Or perhaps it was the quality of the product – the dearth of winning seasons and less than exciting football – that did it.
Whatever the reason, I lost interest in the Bills and football in general. I came to the realization that the Bills organization has been, and continues to be, just another Casino – a locale where a middle class that can barely afford a mortgage gives away a few C-notes at a time to millionaires who care relatively little about the community that’s making them wealthy.
If the Bills were owned by the Seneca Nation instead of Ralph Wilson would we be protesting their presence as much as we protested the Casino’s? Are the people who objected to the construction of the Casino the same ones who pay $25 just for the privilege of parking at the Ralph? Does anyone else see this game as an obsession similar to a slot machine addiction?
Like the Casino, I do not believe that the Bills are a good investment. The community at large does not seem to get an effective return on the money spent. Buffalo Bills goodwill certainly has value, but I suspect that many, many other organizations – like Goodwill! – can provide much more of it, much more efficiently. Paying million-dollar salaries to players who will likely return only a tiny fraction of that in goodwill does not make good sense under any economic circumstances, much less so in an economically depressed community.
Yet we continue to throw tons of private and public money at the team and meanwhile, our schools and our infrastructure continue to rot away. We should be working ourselves into a lather about them. Instead the average Joe is more concerned about the team’s lease agreement than how to raise our SAT scores.
As a community we’ve got this really warped sense of priority. We have deluded ourselves into living this fantasy world every Fall Sunday rather than doing much about the reality we live in the rest of the week.