Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Times change and attractions of the past don’t carry the same weight w/ public

The United Center in Chicago may well be the House That Michael Jordan Built, but the reality of the operators of that West Side structure is that the Bulls got kicked out of their home every November to make room for the circus.
Who knew back in November that Ringling Brothers wouldn't be coming back to Chicago?

The Ringling Brother, Barnum & Bailey Circus to be exact. Which is in the news these days because the so-called Greatest Show on Earth that can trace its origins back 146 years is soon to become defunct.

THEY’RE GOING TO finish out their show schedule through mid-May before becoming no more. As things turn out, their last Chicago appearance were the ones back in November when they staged their show at the United Center.

For those of us Chicagoans who feel one more need to go see the circus with the Ringling Brothers brand name, you’ll have to check out one of the performances come March in Cincinnati – which is about as close to the Second City as they will come in the rest of their lives.

Now I know some of us are getting nostalgic while others are expressing anger.

Some are going out of their way to make politically partisan statements against liberals, whom they want to believe are responsible for the circus’ demise.

FOR WHAT IT’S worth, circus officials in their statement announcing their closing did say that attendance had declined significantly since changes were made in the program to downplay the elephant displays – whom the animal rights activists had always complained were potentially being mistreated.

Although they also conceded that attendance had been on the decline even before that.

The fact is that it wouldn’t shock me to learn that many young people just don’t feel the same attraction to a show that could trace its origins back so far. It wouldn’t shock me to learn that they’d rather play the latest video game (or perhaps take part in a virtual circus in which they could simulate the participation of an actual event) rather than seeing the real thing in person.

After all, the animals smell, and sometimes they poop right in front of you. Yuck!

PERSONALLY, I CAN remember that being the gut reaction I had the one time I went to a circus – back when I was about 5 years old. It wasn’t something I ever felt compelled to do again. And for those people who will claim that a circus gives people exposure to nature and animals, I’d argue that it shows us animals under very unnatural circumstances.
United Center won't need this configuration any longer

Unless you really want to believe that an elephant wears a tutu and dances, or that horses perform tricks for our amusement.

The baseball fan in me is reminded of when the New York Giants left Gotham to relocate in San Francisco, with then-team owner apologizing to the children of New York, but adding, “We didn’t see many of their parents out there at the Polo Grounds in recent years.”

I suspect many of the people who are complaining the loudest about no more circus are the same people who didn’t bother to buy tickets.

THEN AGAIN, THE idea of no more circus makes the baseball fan me think of those people who complain about World Series games being played at night, because supposedly we’re depriving kids a chance to see the ballgames. If they’re playing late into the night, after all, they can’t listen to the broadcasts of day games on the transistor radios they sneak into school.

Except when was the last time a kid ever listened to a transistor radio? And if they are looking at the Internet on a computer during school time, I suspect a ball game is the last thing they’d care to watch!
Nostalgic image? Or everything that was wrong with the circus?
Besides, I’m sure Chicago Bulls fans will enjoy their team getting control of its home arena back. Although I almost feel the extended road trip of a few weeks long every November is something of a team tradition.

Just what will the Bulls do with themselves with all that extra time they’re going to spend in Chicago come November?


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