Expense in excess

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How much would you pay for a pair of sneakers this Christmas worn by your favourite athlete? Fifty dollars? A hundred dollars? A clean conscience?

For quite some time now, North Americans have been lambasted for the materialistic attitudes that dominate our culture — a culture where professional sports are highly relevant.

But how deep have these behaviours really sunk their teeth?

If you ask the two men stabbed in Pennsylvania this past June over a pair of the relished Nike Air Jordan Retro VII “Olympic” sneakers, the answer would be deep enough to draw blood.

This craving to consume far outstrips reason — a dangerous precedent.

But if consumption is in the veins, then it seems we are tied to a destiny of exsanguination — we will bleed out till the point of irreparable damage.

We’re certainly infatuated with the charisma of professional sports, and more broadly, our celebrities.

These champions we have elected stand for our hopes, our dreams and we can be sure that companies know this.

Sports merchandising companies capitalize on this very position that these athletes hold in our society to market their products and make them that much more desirable.

For who can challenge the roar of the crowd when Lebron James emphatically drives home a lob from Dwyane Wade while wearing those shoes you covet? What about when Kobe Bryant’s sneakers propel him over an Aston Martin?

Every time our mirror neurons fire, and the compulsion to satisfy our craving for the ideal awakens, we encourage the transcendence of brands. We inevitably transform something as simple as canvas and rubber into the legacy of

Michael Jordan.

And of course, it’s all well intentioned, because who doesn’t like Michael Jordan? But what does this mean for society?

It means we will continue to buy that canvas and rubber for hundreds of dollars, because it’s in our nature to do so. We will do this, however, without giving a second thought as to what compelled us to make this purchase, nor what consumerist pressures our society emphasizes.

The truth at its core is that the cycle of misplaced value and unjustifiably high pricing will continue to endure as we panic to feed our addiction, over-consuming largely based on credit and perpetuating instability in our money markets. Mark is the Assistant Arts Editor at the Journal.

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