Tradition in Detroit Sports

Growing up outside of Detroit, I have been surrounded by professional and collegiate sports. Since my dad is stuck with two daughters, he chose to raise me to love sports and the traditions they entail. Ironically, my parents are both die-hard Michigan State fans. So sadly, I grew up attending most football and basketball home games in East Lansing. Being from Toronto my dad was never that crazy about professional sports in Detroit; however, as I got older and became more interested in the struggling city located so close to me, I became more interested in the sports culture surrounding it.

In a city that struggles with poverty and crime, there is one thing pushing people to visit Detroit: sports and entertainment. This summer I went to a Tigers game with my cousin despite my dislike for baseball. Sitting in the exclusive “Den Seats” I looked around and really took in the crowd. It was clear that majority of the crowd was from the suburbs of Detroit, like me. How could I tell? Well, because after the excruciating traffic on the highway, the trouble finding parking, and the mobs of people walking from their parked cars on this warm day it was obvious most people drove in. Sadly, it is no secret that majority of the people living in Detroit, although this is changing, are struggling financially and most likely could not afford to come to the game. I felt guilty about this as I sat in special seats that had their own wait staff. After reading Edmond Burke’s “Reflecting on The Revolution in France” I believe he would have thought that these special seats should exist since they typically reinforce social class and the benefits of being on the top.

Burke talks about pleasing illusions saying, “All the super-added ideas, furnished from the wardrobe of a moral imagination, which the heart owns and the understanding ratifies as necessary to cover the defects of our naked, shivering nature, and to raise it to dignity in our own estimation, are to be exploded as a ridiculous, absurd, and antiquated fashion”. Upward Mobility is definitely a pleasing illusion. We constantly hear of athletes who have amazing rag to riches stories. This makes us even more inspired by these humans with super talents. I’m sure there are plenty of kids growing up in Detroit who share the dream of becoming a professional athlete just like the heroes on their favorite team. Burke does not think equality is a good thing and believes hoping for upward mobility is a bad thing. In fact, he does not believe upward mobility exists. Therefore he would not be displeased with the idea that the less fortunate would not be able to attend elite sporting events. I disagree with Burke and believe that although elite sporting events are very enjoyable, they reinforce the gap between socioeconomic status in America.

I have thought about these issues since the game I attended, and am still unsure how I feel about it. I think it is definitely an issue that most people that live in the city that is the home of an elite baseball team cannot afford to go to these games, but I also think it is a good thing that Comerica Park is located downtown. Because of its location, it stimulates the economy, bringing tourists and visitors to town. It also makes it more accessible for the people who actually live in Detroit. This is something I often think about when I attend events at the Palace of Auburn hills.

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This photo from Google maps shows how far the distance between The Palace and the city of Detroit is.

Just last week, I attended the Knicks v. Pistons game in Auburn Hills. I have attended multiple Pistons games, college basketball games and concerts there in the past. Only fifteen minutes away from my house, this stadium is off a highway in a suburb of Detroit. With a giant parking lot and nothing really close by there is little culture at the venue. It does not accurately represent Detroit, and therefore has received a lot of criticism for being the Detroit Pistons’ home.

Looking around at this game, I wondered if there were a lot of people from the actual city of Detroit there. How would a person financially struggling be able to get to Auburn Hills to attend the game? And most importantly, how does this venue help the city grow?

In class, we talked about how Burke is a believer in tradition. When regarding politics he does not think we should wander away from the beaten path but rather follow what has been traditionally done before and has succeeded. When it comes to the topic of sports and location, I believe Burke would believe that the Pistons should be located in Detroit. When the Pistons became a Detroit team in the fifties, their home arena was located in Detroit. In fact, they had two different home arenas in Detroit before moving to the suburb area. I believe that Burke would have encouraged them to stay in Detroit, the town they traditionally represented.

The Detroit Pistons’ playing at their old arena, the Cobo Arena, in Detroit.

There has been much talk about the effort to build a new stadium for the Pistons close by to Comerica Park and Ford Field in Detroit. This advancement would not only help the economy of Detroit, it would uphold the tradition of the team that represents the city. I hope that in the future, our Detroit sports teams and the spectators in the audience will better represent the rising city.

2 thoughts on “Tradition in Detroit Sports

  1. I would TOTALLY have to disagree. I’m from West Bloomfield, a suburb of Metro-Detroit, and yes I often travel 17 miles downtown to Tigers and Red-Wings games along with the other great things Detroit has to offer. At a young age, my father owned a building on 8 mile and I often wandered the same thing. However, as I have grown to create my own opinion not all of the people living in Detroit fall within this stereotypic category society has created. Many of my friends live in Detroit and their parents are wealthy doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, etc. Yes, Detroit has many destitue areas but at the same time they have districts such as Palmer Woods, Sherwood Forests, University District, Boston Edison, etc that are better areas than many suburban areas. Secondly, Detroit is working to build an area around the New Joe Louis arena that would help benefit the homes in Detroit. Your article itself was a good connection, but I would have to disagree with the majority of it.


  2. Loved reading this article! My dad has season tickets to all of the Tigers game and I too cannot help but to wonder about the socioeconomic status of those around me. If sports make a huge revenue in support of the revitalization of the city, how can they expect struggling families who live in the city to afford the games?
    When it comes to the Pistons, I have also always thought that the arena needs to be moved to the City, Especially based on Burkes ideals of tradition, how is it that a huge Detroit based team isn’t in Detroit, solely based on tradition? That could also, in every way help to stimulate the struggling economy of Detroit.


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