Political Sports Game

A majority of conversations about sports are like conversations about weather, wrought from a necessity to dissuade silence between individuals. Also, conversations about sports are initiated by the anxious as a means of lessening the blow of awkward silence.

This is how it starts. Not always. Some are genuinely interested in sport. The others, who have gained a passing, workable knowledge of sports use it in these regards. They are not to be blamed. Initiating a conversation about sports has more than one effect. It allows a listener of life to listen to his/her current socializing partner. That sort of engagement is admirable. It suggests an interest in the person.

Talking about sports lets people get to know each other. Allegiances to teams, schools of thought, and individual players are great fodder for subjective judgement which is how people decide who they like, contrary to the American myth that everyone is an objective, benevolent Samaritan. Friends are made and lost through sports discussions. It’s an ugly situation, but it happens all the time.

People who can talk about sports without getting mad at each other have an edge on life. Learning how to deal with someone’s infatuation with LeBron James or Lance Armstrong strengthens an individual’s ability to deal with greater, more important conflicts in life.

Not trusting someone based on the teams they choose to follow is like disliking or ignoring someone because they are a republican or democrat. The divisions between communities based on team-allegiance and party affiliation are remarkably similar. The mainstream media hasn’t helped with that, either.

In this corner, we have the blue donkey.

In this corner, we have the red elephant.

Note the colors, and the animal mascot. Note the intangibility of the dialogue, the failure of either side to achieve results.

If Obama doesn’t close Guantanamo, I’m not voting for him next year. Yet, Guantanamo doesn’t close and the voter stands by his party when election day comes.

If the Lakers don’t win this game, I’m done. I’m not watching anymore. Yet, the fan continues to watch, or runs the risk of being called a fair-weather fan.

We can all say we’ve seen more than one fair-weather constituent in our lifetimes. We’ve also seen the die-hard,  incapable of the ever-important dialogue.

Like politics in America, where sports belongs it also doesn’t belong. Yet, we continue to struggle in our daily task of talking about both.

One of things that binds sports and politics: our willingness to take part in them. Sports needs fans just like politicians. They both need viewership. The difference is that once in a while, sports gives us something worth watching.

It begins as something to take my mind away from something. It ends as something that takes me away from everything. There is no excuse for it, or, I should say there are no excuses for it. It doesn’t happen to everyone. Some are immune to its effects, its mysticism, its contestability. I, for one have excused myself from any ridicule.

I voted for Bozo the Clown, this cycle. And, my team got swept in the World Series. I didn’t mind watching them lose.

You’re not a better person for not liking sports.

The day after the Super Bowl is a day for NFL fans to wind down, and it’s a day for sports-haters to vent their hot air. I get it, people are sour because NBA players show up to practice with guns, NFL players accidentally shoot themselves, excessively celebrate. All hockey players do is fight. Baseball players don’t speak English, etc. Problem is, sports-haters will deny all the good in sports, mostly because they don’t understand it. It is said hatred is derived from fear.

Chief among sports-hater gripes: athletes salaries are too high. I love hearing all the reasons pro athletes get paid too much.

Unfortunately for the haters, it’s a market. People buy jerseys and go to games. People buy hot dogs and beer at the games. A lot of money is made. Either the players get paid too much or the owners get paid too much.  The money is not coming out of someone’s college fund, and it has nothing to do with national security or the high cost of gasoline. Abortion, legalizing pot and curing cancer have nothing to do with it. Professional sports leagues spent decades creating fan bases and this is the result. There’s a market. They created it. They pay their athletes based on projected returns. It’s simple.

I agree athletes are not heroes and they get paid a lot. But to say they get paid “too much” is ridiculous. Too much according to what? Give me your best faulty comparisons. Yes, I agree teachers, postal workers, troops, et. al should all be paid more, but this has nothing to do with sports. If workers in this country made more income, they’d likely attend more sporting events.

I’ll admit, when I was in high school, I was bitter about sports. It might have been that the jocks pushed me around in the hallways; it might have been I just didn’t understand the games. People who bash sports usually don’t know a damn thing about them, and tend to base their bitterness in, well, nothing substantive. Sports-bashers are usually upset about something in life, and looking for places to take it out. They have the idea that fanatics do nothing meaningful in life.  They won’t let themselves have a good time except for when presented with free tickets to a game. Then, it’s likely they’ll go and have a good time, because you know what? Games are fun.

I agree, the big leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL) don’t do enough for society. Their acronyms and words like “giving, charity, and help” should be synonymous – not things mentioned on the side. These leagues are in positions of power and it’s clear they could do more. At the same time, it’s their money, and they can spend it as they wish.

Good news is: sports-haters have a clear solution: don’t go to games. This also means turning down free tickets (just to make sure you still have principles).

Instead of complaining about high salaries and glorification of athletes, invest in something you are passionate about.  Coddle it, nurture its development. Make people excited about it. Find ways to expand the market for it. Work hard on it. Don’t bash organizations and players for their successes.