" In fact that showdown with labor "produced a cultural shift, a new sense of what can be appropriate in business management." The entire Reagan era, according to Will, a well-known conservative commentator - who wrote this piece at the time of Reagan's passing - is remembered "more for the tax-cutting and deregulating that helped, with the information technologies, to shift the economy into a hitherto unknown overdrive."
Another event that made Reagan a hero at a time when America needed heroes occurred in the spring of 1981, when Reagan was shot in an attempted assassination. The New York Times (Silk, 1981) reported that Reagan's "unruffled demeanor" immediately after being seriously wounded, along with his "jokes to his wife and the medics" all helped to "turn fear into rising respect for Mr. Reagan himself," journalist Leonard Silk reports. A "growing number of Americans decided that they had elected themselves a remarkably cool and gutsy president," Silk continued. The opinion polls showed great support for Reagan, and as public confidence grew, so did belief that the billions proposed for a military build-up was a good idea; and all of this new-found public confidence "quickly affected the stock market" according to Silk.
One of Reagan's campaign slogans as he sought to attack inflation and put people back to work was "Stay the Course." Shortly after Alberto Salazar won the New York City Marathon in October 1982, the gifted long distance runner was called to the White House for a hand-shaking photo opportunity. Salazar "delighted the President's political cadre," the New York Times reported (Clines, 1982), "by uttering Mr. Reagan's current campaign slogan, 'Stay the course.'" Still, that positive pro-Reagan bump notwithstanding, the Times also noted that Reagan aides were "appalled to see the political advantage from [Salazar's] remark slip crassly away" as Salazar then handed over "...a pair of running shoes prominently advertising the name of his equipment patron." That "patron" was, of course, Nike.
The Ronald Reagan Era: Nike
At the time of their "Dual in the Sun," Alberto Salazar wore Nike brand running shoes and Dick Beardsley wore New Balance shoes, a company that paid Beardsley $500 a month, according to Beardsley's Web site (www.dickbeardsley.com).Reportedly, Salazar received $25,000 annually from Nike. Those two companies were like David (New Balance) and Goliath (Nike). According to the New York Times (Amdur 1981), Nike's "superior product and the low-capital approach have produced soaring profits..." The "low-profit approach" Amdur refers to was Nike's strategy of having its shoes built in Asian markets (Korea and elsewhere) where labor was very cheap. The scandal that was to hit Nike in the early 1990s - when evidence of poor women and children laboring up to twelve hours a day in Asian sweatshops to help make Nike famous and wealthy - was a long way away from the early 1980s. These production methods, along with enormously powerful sports-star advertising and the fact that Nike "limits its inventory risk by taking orders from retailers under a five-month futures program that accounts for nearly 60% of sales," Amdur writes, "catapulted Nike into the big leagues with sales estimated at $885 million" for fiscal year 1981. That was an impressive amount of money in the early 1980s.
The Ronald Reagan Era: Sports Popularity and Drug Usage
George Vecsey, syndicated sportswriter for the New York Times, reported in 1983 (based on a survey by the New York-based "Research & Forecasts" firm), "96.3% of the country plays or watches or reads articles about sports," or at least identifies with certain teams and certain athletes "at least once a month" (Vecsey 1983). In that survey Vecsey revealed that 70% of the 1,139 respondents "follow sports every day" and 42% participate in some sporting activity "every day." The most popular participation sport in 1983 was swimming (20% of Americans swam once a week), and they did it for "improved health (39%), enjoyment (32%), relaxation (7%) and for competition (6%)."
The biggest sports winner in the survey (in terms of non-participant loyalty) was football; 39% of survey respondents watch football "always"; as for baseball, 28% watch it "always"; falling in behind those two sports were basketball (19%), boxing (19%), swimming and diving (14), ice skating (13%), horse racing (13%), tennis and track and field tied with 12% of the respondents saying they pay attention "always."
It's interesting to learn that when watching their favorite sports, some 45% of "the most ardent fans at least sometimes fantasize that they are the athletes competing..." according to the survey.
Other nuggets contained in the research touched on racial themes; 89% of African-American fans, for example, selected a black athlete as their favorite, while 72% of white fans chose a white athlete as their favorite. A great number of respondents said that players caught using drugs should be banned for life.
Meantime, middle distance running star Sebastian Coe was quoted in the Times (Wallace 1982) as saying that the indiscriminate use of drugs among world-class athletes is the major problem in international sports. "The use of such substances has the ability to destroy sports, to chip away at the foundations. We have to hit hard on this issue," he went on, adding "life bans" against those caught using drugs would be a way of "saving sport." Little could Coe or any others at that time know how serious drug use among athletes (i.e., steroids, cocaine, supplements like ephedrine) would become in the 1990s and into the 21st Century.
The Ronald Reagan Era: American Design & Fashion
Wallowing in Opulence and Luxury" is the headline in an article by Paul Goldberger in the New York Times, November 13, 1988. The writer is reviewing American design in the 1980s, and he contrasts the "Reagan era" as a time of "pause, if not of actual change, in architecture as well as in politics." Whereas the previous decades - the 1960s and 1970s - were "looking...to remake the world," the 1980s, Goldberger explains, reflects the fact that "...a belief in utopia has been replaced by a contentment with what is, by a willingness to say that our culture is all right so long as it can make us comfortable."
There is a "strange and ambiguous, not to say ambivalent, relationship between the culture of architecture and the culture of politics right now," Goldberger continues. Robert Venturi is a theorist who would be "appalled to think of any connection between his ideas and the conservative tastes of the Reagan years," the writer explains; but indeed many designers in the Reagan era concentrated on corporate high-rise design and "single family homes for the rich." A symbol of the "lavishness of the corporate architecture of the 1980s" was the IBM building in Atlanta (designed by John Burgee and Philip Johnson) Goldberger continues.
And the "best evidence" that creative young designers were also rolling up their sleeves in the 80s could be seen in the creatively designed homeless shelters in Virginia, the affordable housing in Boston, and "plywood huts for the homeless in Atlanta" (built by architecture students) in the very shadow of the Burgee and Johnson IBM tower.
Drugs and Society - Beardsley's Problem
The Brant article (p. 159) reports that 7 years after that "Dual in the Sun" Beardsley retired from running; one day as he was operating equipment on his farm in Minnesota, he became entangled in the power take-off and was seriously injured. In the hospital, "that first rush of Demerol" was "unlike anything the straight-arrow" non-drinking Beardsley had ever experienced. He "rocketed into another world." And soon he was addicted. By 1995, Brant writes that Beardsley was popping about "ninety tablets of Demerol, Percocet, and Valium" every day. He spent his waking hours thinking about and pursuing those drugs.
In the 1980s, many athletes got involved in the "recreational use" of cocaine and marijuana, but Beardsley had apparently avoided those temptations. Once introduced to prescription drugs, he couldn't avoid those. He is not alone. A Wall Street Journal article (March 2, 2004) explains that abuse of prescription drugs "has exploded in the past decade." In fact prescription medicine ranks number two behind marijuana, among the most abused drugs among adults and young people, the article explains, using data from the recent study by the Health and Human Services Department of the federal government. The abuse of prescription drugs has become so prevalent, the article continues, that "emergency-room visits from prescription-drug abuses have risen 163%" since 1995.
Meanwhile, on the subject of drug abuse, an article in USA Today (Leinwand 2007) points out that while "alcohol remains the favored substance of abuse on college campuses by far, but the abuse of prescription drugs and marijuana has increased dramatically since the mid-1990s." The study reflected in this article was conducted by the national Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University.
The first study conducted by CASA was done in 1993, and the most…