The irony of ‘sports’…

I’m amazed at the number of people who live vicariously through sports teams.

On one hand, I understand that it’s a part of identifying with where you’re from, having pride in your home team, so forth.  On the other hand, consider this:  You’re watching multi-millionaires being paid to play.

Allow that to sink in.  Nearly every person on the field in a professional televised ball sport gets paid enough in ONE game to support a family of four very comfortably just about anywhere in the United States for at least a year.

I’m not going for the class warfare angle here, really, I’m not.  I’m trying to point out that what we consider sport really doesn’t benefit anyone but the players, team owners, sponsors and the surrounding structure that they’re a part of.  Other than entertainment, what do you get out of watching a bunch of multi-millionaires spending the afternoon doing something everyone watching could enjoy doing themselves?  Why not go out and play the game yourself? There are some obvious answers to that question, ranging from disabilities to available time or other circumstances, but consider this;  you can do the same thing the pros are doing – granted, nowhere as well – for free.  Meaning it costs you nothing and nobody is paying you, either.

If you attend a game, it’s much more exciting, you’re there with the rest of the crowd.  It’s more of a group experience, you get caught up in the excitement.  That’s understandable.

Are we much different from the Romans watching the gladiators?  Sure, there’s no gore, and the gladiators were mostly slaves and prisoners, other than the occasional champion.  Is there really much of a difference?  People watch football for the hard hits, baseball for the spectacular plays, hockey for the fights, and…whoops, UFC is very Romans-in-the-Colesieum, isn’t it?

Why do we pay into a system that makes people who play millionaires?  We wear their colors, their jerseys,  we cheer their team, we have ‘pride’ in something that costs us money…for what?  This goes beyond being proud of your home team, especially in more recent history, since teams are increasingly changing their home cities.  There’s talk of the 49ers going to San Jose.  Numerous ball teams over the years have changed hometowns, some all the way across the continent.  Would you still be a Giants fan if they traded places with the Yankees?  The Giants came from New York, after all. could you bring yourself to become a Yankees fan if that’s the only baseball you could see at AT&T Park? I’m inclined to call it McCovey Park, it’s on McCovey Cove…a corporation paying to have their name put on a sports venue seems rather blasphemous, or at least unashamedly money-grubbing.  It’ll always be Candlestick to me, no matter who paid to have their name on it.

Point is, why have our pasttimes become something that we watch, and pay a lot of money to watch, to the point of the participants being obscenely rich?  We can play the sport and watch it for free.  Are we so desperate to be a part of something bigger than ourselves that we’ll ignore the irony of a bunch of millionaires running ’round in a multi-million dollar venue on perfectly manicured grass, or really expensive fake grass, for that matter?

I’m getting tired of ‘sports fans’.  ‘Fan’ being short for ‘fanatic’, maybe there is something to it.  Fanaticism makes people do funny things.

I’ll say this:  I will pay good money to see multi-milionaires do something I’m incapable of doing, and do it with something that cost millions, and proves it. F1, air racing, LeMans, rally racing,power boats, jet dragsters,  you better believe that if there’s millions of dollars flying around and the machinery involved soaked up a lot of that money, I’m going to be interested.  They’ve added a jets class at the Reno Air Races in recent years, it’s going to get really interesting 20 years or 30 years from now when afterburning ex-military hardware starts blasting around the pylons at 500 feet off the deck.

I don’t get ball sports.  I get motorsports.  Maybe that’s peculiar to me, but if  I’m really only interested in multi-millionaires competing against other multi-millionaires when there’s a danger of destroying millions of dollars in equipment.  Crashes are spectacular when one good hit wipes out $20 million worth of racing equipment.  Yeah, the drivers and owners and a lot of the team members all have massive bank accounts, but man, if the driver sneezes on a particularly difficult chicane or a nasty off-camber decreasing radius sweeper, those overstuffed pocketbooks are going to be cringing a lot more than the audience.  At least one small mistake will ruin those millionaires’ day and their bank account.

Keep wearing your jerseys and ballcaps, I’m going to the track…and I’ve been on the track, in a car, wearing a helmet and a firesuit, surrounded by a cage and telemetry equipment, wearing a harness, going faster than you’ve ever gone on a public road, all the while mere inches from other cars doing the same thing.  Now THAT is sporting.  Care to sit in front of the TV or in a stadium still?  If I’m going to pay money into a sport, I want it to pay back.

…but, I did it for free, sans the cost of driving to the track.  I have some people I’m very grateful to.

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