Posted On: Tuesday - December 22nd 2020 7:50PM MST
In Topics:   Americans  Bread and Circuses
Just from our use of the term "sportsball" here, the astute reader may already figure that we think there is a lot the matter with sportsball. Peak Stupidity commenter Ganderson defended the ubiquitous American obsession* with spectator sports, big and small, in one of his comments under our R.I.P. - Chuck Yeager post.
I appreciate all commenters here (so far!), and this is a minor disagreement I have, if any at all, on the topic. Anyone who follows Peak Stupidity coverage regularly on the myriad types of stupidity going on out there is bound to read something offensive to him. Also, for those who keep up here, I doubt any following of spectator sports as an enjoyable hobby detracts from their understanding of the importance of our miserable political situation too.
That is my first point, and the one with which I replied to our commenter friend. I run into too many people, who even to this day, spend so much more attention to the sportsball games, players, stats, etc., then they do to politics. Well, it may be true that there nothing you can really do regarding politics, but one could say the same for the next NFL game too. Is your fandom going to change the results?
Who cares? It's just a pleasant hobby for people and better entertainment than some of the other crap on TV. I get that. If it's a game that you play yourself, I can't knock your watching the pros for tips.
That said, you may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you. (No, I did not make that up, but I really like that one!) America has had such a great run of peace (at home, anyway) and prosperity that people may rightly figure that they don't need to pay attention to politics. That time is over. Any thinking person should see that by this point. I think there is always something one can do to affect change, even if it's only bringing things up to friends and neighbors. However, Americans have had the luxury of not having to worry so much about politics that it is considered rude to rile people by starting in about politics. Talking about sports is so much more polite.
At the same time, because some American men spend so much brain power and emotion on "their team", I've seen guys that would get in drunken fights over insults to their team or idols. Yet, had you just told them that a new law against free speech had been passed or the legislature is instituting more gun control, you'll likely hear "it is what it is" and "you can't fight this stuff". Lots of Americans are spending their time, effort, and mental and emotional energy on the wrong things. In a 2-year-ago post we discussed SportsBall as the Circuses in the "Bread and Circuses", and wondered if this distraction is purposeful.
Another thing I will note here is that as the country has been homogenized by region at least as far as traditional Americans are concerned (for example, the South is not so distinct a cultural region as it was 50 years ago), and Americans are so mobile, what is the point of the "home team" anymore? Those Baltimore Ravens players, are they really long-term residents from Baltimore families who have any connections to the community? Nah, there is no connection and loyalty for most of the players. Hell, there's an ice hockey team in Charlotte, N. Carolina. Did those fellows used to play out on frozen lakes in the winter with some guys you knew from high school? Haha, not hardly, as nobody ice skates in Charlotte, unless it's a one-time novel treat or he isn't really from Charlotte and gets his doughnuts at Dunkin Donuts instead of Krispy Kreme.
As I wrote to Mr. Ganderson, baseball is one piece of American culture that I appreciate myself especially at the Little League or minor league level. It's a pastime, as they say, as much as a sport, and one that I hope stays around at least as long as this country does.
The rest of what I have against "sportsball" is the racial and, as of late, political aspects of this "industry". I'll address those problems in Part 2 tomorrow night ... after the ball game.
* Note that "obsession" is my term, not Mr. Ganderson's. He likes his hockey, and more power to him.