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Just Forget About It

  Karl Yu's "Sponsorship Specifics" article in the Peak's March 3, 2003 issue needs some opposing perspective.

  Forget shoe companies' tainted manufacturing practices overseas. Forget that Nike associating themselves with the excellence in the women's basketball program also means that reciprocally, our team gets associated with exploitive labour practices. Forget that Nike being a market leader holds no moral weight when the global runner industry has a consistent record of abusing workers.

  Forget also that "it seems like a lopsided deal in favour of the university" because when you measure the value of a relationship between our university and a company we need to compare more than just the cost of goods exchanged. Forget that in our global economic climate, anything that can't be measured in economic terms (like the human cost of labour exploitation or smog, or the destruction of biodiversity), simply isn't a factor to too many economists.

  Forget all that and think about our social contract. Governments should be able to legitimately develop fair, progressive tax systems to fund human necessities that shouldn't be at the mercy of the profit motive or greed: health care, education (K-12 and post-secondary), social services, consumer protection, environmental stewardship. Clearly, B.C. and Canada are far from thrillingly successful at those. But to suggest that without corporate sponsorship in athletics, tuition would be higher, ignores the fact that a post-secondary education system properly funded by governments wouldn't be in this mess in the first place.

  Moral integrity is also something that our current economic climate is incapable of factoring in. We need to look past that limitation and find ways of considering it anyway. Merely saying that corporate sponsorship has been around for a while avoids this necessity.

Stephen Buckley
Copyright 2003

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