Sports: Safe outlet or opiate from intellectual debate?
Sports are an important part of any society. They promote health, exercise, teamwork, camaraderie, but in some cases, they bring out the worst in people. And nowhere is this more true than at the actual sporting events, where large numbers of people gather, and a sort of mob mentality quickly takes over with those who are most susceptible.
Sports is a generally safe environment for people to openly discriminate (I love my team and I hate yours, and all others). Say things you’d never say in a professional setting, and do things you wouldn’t necessarily do in general public. And this is (mostly) a healthy exercise. Hating a team for no real discriminatory reasons, other than they beat your favorite team ten years in a row, doesn’t affect the world in the way that genuine discrimination on the basis of gender or race would. And that’s all good. But sometimes, it’s worth wondering just why so many people, a number larger than probably all those in this country who vote, pay attention to politics, or volunteer for causes they believe in, instead get so emotional and oftentimes irate about sports.
Will the world change if your team wins? Will there be a threat to our livelihoods if they lose? Other than the euphoria or despair we might feel at the ultimate end of a game, there is no truly life-shattering effect on the fans. And that is both a beautiful and disturbing aspect of sports – win or lose, you can wake up tomorrow with new hopes, and no fear of consequences, except for the occasional ribbing from the imposing teams fans (unless you lost a bet – but that’s not really sports anyway – that’s just stupidity). Sports have created a safe little world where the players (warriors) are real, the money spent (and gained by the leagues) is real, and the games themselves are real – but what the fans make of them – that is completely translucent, like trying to catch the wind flapping the flags hung around the arena.
People have complained many a time, why bother voting, why pay attention to politics or important world issues, because my vote counts for fractions of almost nothing and I can’t change the world. Well, for one, it’s good that one person can’t change the course of politics with their one vote – that’s called tyranny. But then, we have to ask, why bother with sports? Why pay to go to games, why cheer for a team, if you’re advice, shouted from the upper deck, will never be given the slightest consideration? That’s easy you say – it’s entertainment, its fun to watch, it makes you happy. It is the blissful oblivion and disappearance of responsibility that you must be seeking. And sports are a powerful tool to free your mind from the mundane, and dream. But whats the point of all that shouting, dreaming, and exercise, if it’s all for naught?
Maybe it’s better to see the world as one great sporting event, except this game has real life consequences. Battles are won and lost, and people are irrevocably affected. It’s time to flight the coin, and call a side. It’s time to run flat-out for the ball, and not be caught offsides. It’s time to channel our energy into sport that matters, and helps the teammates that cannot help themselves, and respect the rights of opposing teams to compete.