Friday, July 13, 2007
I hate sports
It's hard-to-believe, I know, but sports has never done anything for me...except force itself on my life. My late, lamented step-father was a fan of football and baseball--an easy-going one. He didn't make it a religion that weirdly fused with...religion and nationalism. Where did it begin? I actually liked baseball & basketball as a kid, but during the 1970s, American-males were having an identity-crisis (still ongoing!). Widespread divorce was a new phenomena too, and the guys were a little insecure and angry over feminism. The final solution? Overcompensation-by-sports. For everyone else who copped-out during the 60s-70s, it would be heroin, cults/Jesus freak mode, and disco. For others, sports, the other national religion. Whenever American men feel insecure, they reach for sports.
So yeah, the 1970s: mostly a horrible decade, but at least there was no war on drugs, Reagan, but a very troubled time with a lot of violence everywhere, at every level of American society. Seriously, it was everywhere. Statistics mean nothing. One of the main-locations I remember violence at was at school games and gym classes. It nearly always surrounded sports in some way. There's a reason for this--sports basically sucks. It would be OK if it were just a little pastime like it was over 80-years-ago here in America, but it's just gone way beyond something healthy and "normal." It's officially wrong. Some people say it "gives me a feeling of togetherness, being a part of something bigger." Right, like everyone going to see "Star Wars" in 1977 was going to heal America's divisions after the 1960s. It's an illusion that reminds me of the Nuremberg rallies.
What's worse is the irrational nationalism attached to sports, it's blatant, vulgar, and obvious. And don't you just love the drunks at games? Or the sky-high tickets? What about those fat potato-heads in Chicago who look perpetually drunk, and always have that stupid baseball hat on, and stubble? Back when I was working at a children's home, we sometimes took the kids to baseballs games. One of the kids didn't want to stand for the national anthem, so I let him sit-down. Realizing I don't have any real loyalty to a piece-of-cloth and an anthem based on an old English drinking-song, I sat too. Things got ugly, we even had one of the pitchers staring-us-down from the field, very weird. Like I said: an illusion. In a truly free country, nobody would have reacted or cared. It was our prerogative to sit.
The irony is that more people attend performing arts events, museums, galleries, etc., than all sports combined in the Continental United States. The majority of Americans don't bother to go to games like they did in the past, a trend that began to take-hold in the early 1990s. But don't trust me:
Our communities benefit from the presence of both the arts and sports. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis, American consumers spent more than $10 billion on admissions to performing arts events in 1997. Moreover, 1997 spending on performing events was roughly 1.6 times larger than spending on either admissions to movies or spectator sports.
American consumers have increased their spending on performing arts events by almost $2 billion, or 26%, since 1992. By contrast, admission receipts for movies and spectator sports have showed little change in the same period. Per capita spending on performing arts amounts to approximately $39 compared with $24 per person on movie admissions and $23 for spectator sports.
Another survey by the U.S. Census Bureau indicated that while 50% of U.S. adults had attended a live arts event in 1997, only 41% had attended a live sporting event. (mtn.org, 'The Arts & Sports: Apples & Oranges,' 2006?)
Current statistics show the trend continuing, with no growth in sports. Yet, what gets cut first? It's to continue our mindless warrior culture, that's certainly a part of it, and it also serves the "bread and circus" function to keep boors in-line. The other thing that's so cuddly about sports is the implicit Social Darwinism. As we all know, our hominid ancestors needed to carry a round-object to a hole, across a line, or into a hoop or basket to survive. Gimme a fuckin' break. If there were no laws and we were in that hypothetical "state of nature," I can assure you that most athletes would be dead thanks to their lack of guile and their stupidity. I would be having several of their asses before sunrise because there wouldn't be anything to stop me (or anyone else).
Why do you think the wimmen folks invented the frying-pan? Survival had everything to do with luck, ingenuity, useful random mutations, guile, better intellect, an available pool of compatible mates, imaginative agility, and a spryness that steroid-addled beefheads couldn't muster these days. Being smaller is actually better, incidentally, and most human beings were until very recently. What's more boring than watching grass grow? Sports. The late Frank Zappa felt the same way--why have loyalty to something that has none for you? Why conform to something that's empty and annoying? Why support something that a smaller-part of society enjoys? A certain kind of woman is a sports fanatic: the kind who falls-down a lot (she'll swear to it). Really, their mates never hit them, they're just clumsy. What I really get from sports today, however, is how useless the macho model of men is, and how out-of-place it is in the modern world. It fobs a model of manhood which is infantile and obsolete, a kind of warped "warrior culture" that's meeting-its-end in Iraq & Afghanistan. Fumble. And I haven't even brought-up hockey, or all those parents who attack each other at little league games...