"Let's put this is perspective: this is sports guys, this is not life.....It's a sport, it's a game, it's entertainment. I think we take it a little too literally. It doesn't define who we are, it's what we enjoy. At the end of the day, life is so much bigger than a game."
At least, that's what San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom used to say -- right up to last Wednesday night's announcement by the San Francisco 49ers that the team is planning to ditch its rickety and cold stadium on blighted, inaccessible, infrastructure-less Candlestick Point for a brand-new one in the middle of warm, booming, transit-proximate, developed Santa Clara.
THEN the tune changed.
Now, we have the following gale blowing up in the City by the Bay. Hold on to your toothbrushes.
-- City Attorney Herrera, at Newsom's prodding, is threatening to file a lawsuit preventing the team from using "San Francisco" or "49ers" in their name -- an action which, according to most experts, has a probability level somewhere between "nonexistent" and "impossible".
-- Newsom himself is threatening to refuse to change bus routes and -- get this -- to withhold essential services like game-day police protection -- apparently believing that voters will blame the 49ers for the resulting smashed car windows, muggings, beatings, and shootings when he orders San Francisco's finest to stay away from a stadium and parking lot full of cars located in the highest-crime area in the City.
-- State Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, and Senator Carol Migden, D-San Francisco, are authoring state legislation to ban the team from using either "San Francisco" or "49ers" in their name if they move, plus other laws to prevent municipalities or jurisdictions from raising taxes to pay for infrastructure improvements to attract teams from another locale.
-- Not to be outdone, Representative and Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi, D - San Francisco, and Senator Dianne Feinstein, D - CA, threatened to introduce, Federal legislation to do the same, with DiFi going so far as to put pressure on the NFL through Senate hearings to bring the 49ers to heel.
Why all the hubbub, you ask?
Because the 49ers's move essentially torpedoed local leaders' potential monument to themselves -- San Francisco's bid for the 2016 Olympics.
"Wait," you say......"Couldn't the City just build a stadium itself for the Olympics and redevelop the Bayview-Hunter's Point area with affordable housing? Why do they need the 49ers?"
Because, dear reader, that goes completely against the fundamental principle of San Francisco liberalism; never do yourself what you can use the power of government to force successful private industry to do for you.
Just as in this past year's debate, in which the City, instead of digging into its own pockets and tax revenues to fund health insurance for all its residents, enacted an ordinance of questionable legality to make businesses do it, the point here was to force a private entity with money -- the 49ers -- to redevelop a place they don't own for purposes that have nothing to do with them in a way inconsistent with what they need and on a timetable which leaves them essentially hanging for the next eight or so years.
Can you blame the 49ers for saying, "See ya"?
Honestly, if the San Francisco Politburo could have gotten this worked up over fixing the, oh, decades of complaints that stadium had already garnered, keeping the 49ers wouldn't be a problem. Heck, if they'd managed even half this level of energy, they could have gotten a venue built and the "affordable housing" into which they were going to turn the proposed Olympic Village (on a toxic waste site, no less) regardless of whether the 49ers were there or not.
But that would have required them to spend their own money, thus leaving less for lucrative contracts for their cronies, grants for their corrupt neighborhood associations, and concessions to the unions whose perks-for-votes trading have already put the City about $3 billion in the hole; therefore, we have the current fireworks and screeching show.
So, to the 49ers, I say.....more power to you, and best of luck in Santa Clara.
To everyone else, I just turn the iPod up a little louder.