The Weird, Weird World of “Sports”

It’s time for the Superbowl again! A simple American football game. Every year around this time we get overwhelmed with news articles, and advertisements and pre-game hype about players and coaches and pre-game strategies and recipes for Superbowl parties. We have beer commercials and car commercials and cell phone commercials and pizza commercials and condom commercials plastered all over our televisions in anticipation of the big game day.

We all get caught up in peer pressured tribal rituals of appearing to care about teams that really mean nothing to us, and get to go to loud alcohol fueled house parties we would rather not attend. Or worse yet, going to a “sports” bar where patrons try to out scream every other patron while over-paying for food and drinks to get the privilege to participate. We don expensive garish clothing showing our support to this team or that, just be a part of the group and fit in.  It’s a game generated media frenzy of fluff to get us to buy stuff in the end. A commercial feeding frenzy generated for our money. And it’s simply a game. Author Ken Purdy once used a quote attributed to Earnest Hemingway “…that of all sports, only bullfighting and mountain climbing and motor racing really try a man, that all the rest are mere recreations, games that children can play.” That should be a humbling thought for all the high-dollar superstars, and the goobers that pay their salaries.

So let’s get down to the basics. What is American football? Eleven players on one team try to move an elongated ball 100 yards down a rectangular field in various ways, while eleven opposing players try to stop them. Soccer (world football) is pretty much the same concept. Hockey moves this same conception to ice, and basketball moves it to throwing a ball into a basket at the end of a court.  In the final analysis, the whole premise  is moving an object from one end of a rectangular playing surface to another…then the players get to jump around, hoot, holler and do silly dances. Pretty mundane for an activity that garners so much attention. Granted, Baseball is somewhat different but in the end it involves a ball and running and throwing while players navigate around a square in a field. Boxing is not a game or a sport, it’s just a fight.

And all these players receive exorbitant salaries to play this game, not a sport, a game. A game children can play remember? Grown men, literally in costume, running around in a field chasing a ball. If it wasn’t so pathetic it would be comical. I am sure future historians will be in stitches laughing at us. And in a couple of hours, like a flash, the game is over and then resigned to a rarely researched history, and some statistical compilation logs somewhere stored for future game enthusiasts. Ten years from now, no one will even remember who won it unless they go look it up. Once again, a humbling thought for the superstars and goobers.

But then I put it all back into perspective.

I am reminded as I walk through the streets sometimes, I’ll see graffiti art that is absolutely phenomenal. Or a breath-taking canvas that hangs on a wall. Some artist took some paints and made something beautiful purely from talent and imagination. I’ll listen to musicians who take instruments made from pieces of strings and wood, making beautiful musical sounds from nothing but scribbles on paper, and soul. I’ll read books from writers that take me on fantastic journeys, engaging with fascinating characters and wonderful plot lines. I’ll read about scientists that do unbelievable mathematical calculations that are beyond comprehension opening up the stars; or spend weeks in the field studying animals to understand their behavior so we can understand ourselves; or dig up ancient sites finding out how our ancestors brought us to the civilizations we live in today and how we can improve them. I’ll envy the engineers that built the infrastructure of our buildings, and bridges and highways, and every other mechanical device we take for granted everyday. I’ll applaud teachers in elementary and middle schools who take young minds and teach them to read, instilling enough interest in them about a subject that they will dedicate their lives to it, seeking further knowledge and advancement of society. I’ll respect and pay homage to the soldiers who fought in behalf of our country, who you need to thank everyday if you can read freely at all…especially in English. And the millions of other people who do the jobs that our society needs just to function every day. Why are none of these people paid enormous salaries for the jobs they do? They get no recognition or reward but without them the world would be awfully bland and ignorant, and not one of us would be watching a Superbowl game.

So during this Superbowl game while the game stops on the field for a commercial break to sell some useless product to us and nothing of interest is happening, try thinking of the real superstars in our society who aren’t paid huge sums of money;

that struggle everyday to make ends meet so they can raise their families on a pittance for no recognition. The people who give the full measure of devotion to their disciplines and professions to make life better for us all. And not the costumed children who are simply playing a forgettable game in a field.

Another quote comes to mind: “Who’s the more foolish? The fool or the fool who follows him”.



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