The Stupor Brawl

Yay.  The Seattle Seahawks won.  It’s hard enough for me, a dedicated football hater, to get up the interest to yell out the door, “Hey, you motherfucking assholes, quit blowing off fireworks over my backyard!” to the celebrants.  I mean, seriously.  What is it with sporting events that turns ordinary people into bellowing morons?

I get athletic endeavors.  Gawd only knows between the parkour-type stuff and the martial arts, I was certainly athletic enough in my youth.  Competing against…myself.  Only damn person I ever thought worth competing AGAINST.  Which is why these artificial competitions between regionally associated teams baffle me.  “Oh, I am represented by the team in the nearest large city, unless of course I want to be a maverick and choose the city of my birth or the city my girlfriend’s uncle lives in.”  (Can you tell I don’t get it?).

I don’t really play games.  I find competing with other people boring.  In my younger days I played chess and cribbage with my father, or Rummy, Canasta, or one of a hundred different boardgames with my friends, family, and girlfriends.  Problem is, I eventually got to the point that I honestly don’t care who wins.  If I don’t care who wins, I’m bored.  If I’m bored, I’m no fun at all.

So you can imagine I really don’t get the point of a arbitrarily chosen team of athletes representing me against athletes representing people of another city who happen to like the same sport.  These rivalries make no goddamn sense.  I didn’t understand them in school, when they wanted us to have aggressive feelings toward our peers who happened to attend a different school in the same district.  In some places these rivalries get pretty serious.

Didn’t we just spend, oh, I don’t know, several thousand years getting over the tribal stuff?  Why would we choose to replace a real tribe (people you’re actually related to in some way) with an artificial one (people you happen to live close to who enjoy the same sport).  Yay.  We’re both Seahawk fans together!  We got to watch them beat the people from Denver, who most assuredly suck. They suck so bad their football players couldn’t beat ours after beating every other team in the sport.

Part of it, I don’t like football.  I don’t find it engaging.  I also don’t like the fact that it causes brain damage and costs taxpayers billions of lost revenue every year.  I’m not thrilled by the fact the highest paid public employee in many states are university level athletic coaches.

I like baseball.  I played baseball as a kid.  I guess that tells you my bias right away.  I played football too, but only for a season.  If your coach can’t figure out to do with the smallest, fastest kid the in the school, that wasn’t my problem.  It was touch football, it was in grade school.  It was annoying.

I guess I figured if I was going to get hurt, it would be learning something that would help me in life.  Frankly, I didn’t see how any sport could.  Yes, I know the whole shtick about leadership, good sportsmanship, and ‘the value of competition.’  I don’t even like competition martial arts, though I will admit that for sheer toughness and endurance, nothing beats an MMA fighter.  I just believe that learning to fight with rules defeats the purpose.  Fighting isn’t a game.  If I’m in a fight, I’m deadly serious.  I only know one rule.  Be the one who walks away.

Some people say that sports helps our academic institutions, but I’m not sure that’s true.  Not when people are admitting that they’re allowing kids to play–and graduate–with a 3rd grade reading level.  Folks, I was reading 3rd grade level before I was in school.  What the hell service are they doing to these kids?  Allowing them to risk injury and brain damage for someone else’s profit?  College players don’t even make any money.  They’re risking most of the same thing professionals do, but they’re doing it for FREE.  Most of them will never get the chance to play professionally, regardless of the risks they take.

Who wins?  The athlete?  The consumer?  The schools?  Or the profiteers?

Football is clearly the big offender in much of this.  While injury isn’t uncommon in many other sports, the certainty of injury, and the greatly increased likelihood of serious or repeated head injuries, make football a much more dangerous sport for our young ones to be playing.

But football’s almost a religion in some places and to some people.  Most of them aren’t going out there and risking those injuries themselves.  Someone is taking that risk on their behalf.  And, honestly, only the professionals are being paid enough to compensate them for it.

Football’s not the only sport with problems, certainly.  Baseball has its doping issue, as, clearly, does that big bike race Lance Armstrong kept winning.  Repeated head injuries are an issue in boxing as well.  Internet gambling, legal or illegal, turns these sports into even more of a profit-making venture.  For the wrong kinds of people.

Athletes are role-models.  But how many of them deserve to be?  It’s like looking at celebrities and pop stars as role models and then being disappointed when they turn out to be human after all.  You want a role-model?  Find a fictional character.  People are flawed.  Every last one of us.

As much as some people condemn television, I’ll say this straight up.  You can learn a lot more from even a mediocre scripted program than you can a sporting event, I would say.  One might learn something about introducing a character, dialogue, camera location and angles, wardrobe, or any number of tidbits useful to a writer, for example.  Yes, of course I’d look at it from the perspective of a writer.

It gets better.  Have you ever watched a sports interview that didn’t basically consist of the athlete saying something to the effect of “we will win/lose, may win/lose, based on our ability to do this particular thing, but the opposing team will know this and they will do their best to stop us from doing this thing?”  I’m sorry, but offense vs. defense in most of these sports aren’t exactly complicated subjects. It’s pretty cut and dried.  In football, basketball, soccer, etc… you want to move the ball down the field to your opponent’s “territory” and strike his protected area.  Like an army assaulting a fortified position.  In baseball, it’s just another form of offense/defense, One might note, however, that baseball is probably the game least associated with war.  Except maybe golf, unless you believe some version of the story in the LOTR of the Took who invented golf by knocking a goblin head in a hole.

Yeah.  Probably not.

My father’s a bit of a sports nut.  He could be watching two football games and a basketball game at the same time, flipping between them.  Honestly, what the fuck’s the point of that?  I don’t get it.  I can’t figure out why it’s important at all, but it seems that by flipping between the channels all you’re doing is risking missing a good play.

Then again, it took me over twenty years to relearn what I figured out as as a teenager.  My father’s an idiot.  You know, all teenagers figure that, right?  That their parents are idiots.  Then you get a bit older and you start thinking, oh, hell, maybe the old man isn’t so bad after all.  Sometimes he’s actually okay.  And, then, hopefully, your parent doesn’t prove that your childhood wasn’t a fluke and he really is that big a jackass.

Either way.  I will say this.  My old man might have had a better chance of making me a sports fan had he been interested in spending more time playing ball than sitting there watching a game or three.

But, like I said…

I understand athletics.  But I do NOT understand this obsession with watching other people engage in athletics, all to the tune of billions of dollars that I believe could be better spent on just about anything else out there.  I don’t think people should be making millions of dollars doing it, or billions of dollars selling it.

Cripes, can’t you find something better to do?  Read a book or something.  Take a walk.

Can’t you folks recognize the circuses of the classic “bread and circuses” when you see them?  But, hell, at least the roman poor could get into the coliseum.  Your sports have priced the game right out of their hands.  And, even worse, often black out the game so people who can’t afford to actually attend are prevented from enjoying it.

I’m sorry, but compared to that, most of the stuff Hollywood pulls seems pretty tame to me.

Now, if you’re finished celebrating this completely pointless non-event, you want to join us back in the real world and discuss something that really matters?  How about the TPP?  Hmm.  Minimum wage hike?  Yeah?