Thursday, January 05, 2006

OK, Now I'm REALLY in Trouble

All right, I admit it, today's rant is probably going to far. After all, I've taken shots at such beloved institutions as the Church and Veganism (is that a word?) in the past. And lets face it, each one of these institutions features members who are not exactly rational in their pursuit of what they see as their "defence of the faith".

Today, I am gunning for a group of people who's fanaticism and rabid devotion eclipses even the most fervid, sword-wielding religious crusader or sanctimonious paint-bucket-wielding PETAn. Today, I dare to take a shot at: Organized Sports.

Our society puts a literally insane emphasis on sports. Lets take a look at the reality of sports: football, hockey, basketball, lacrosse, polo, whatever ... they are all GAMES folks. GAMES. Games which, when you look at things honestly, do not actually matter. If one team beats another, it doesn't cause people to lose lives. The outcome of the Superbowl does not have an affect on the frequency of hurricanes. The winner of the World Series does not put affect global food production.

Apart from some gambling, and people who get way too heated in their fandom (seriously, if you have ever physically assaulted someone over a disagreement about sports, do the world a favour and see a psychiatrist), the outcome of sports games do not actually matter. Who won the world series in 1957? Ok, sure, some sports fans might know, but it doesn't actually matter.

For something that doesn't matter, we spend a great deal of time and energy - not to mention money - on sports. We even devote a large chunk of our news programming to reporting on sports games. Think about that - the news is designed to keep us in touch with what is going on in the world. They report events of local and international significance that may (or may not) have an impact upon our lives, our societies, our world. They also talk about the weather - after all, the weather does affect us all.

And then, for reasons that boggle my mind, they spend a large chunk of their time/space talking about grown men playing GAMES.

We spend a ridiculous amount of money on sports-related merchandise. Jerseys, shoes, "official" footballs (which differ from "regular" footballs in that they have the letters "NFL" stenciled on them), etc. eat up a significant proportion of our discretionary income. The games themselves have become so expensive that only the very rich can afford to attend any game of importance (importance to the fans, mind you, not actually really important). Ticket prices for an event like the Superbowl (or even the Rose Bowl) can exceed $30,000 for the best seats, and even nosebleeds run in the thousands.

Our society spends an insanely inordinate amount of time, money, and effort on GAMES. What is wrong with us as a people that we think nothing of allowing people to pay $30,000.00 to watch a GAME when hundreds upon thousands of people in our own societies are starving to death? Why is it ok to pay one man millions of dollars a year to put a ball in a hoop when children are dying of malnutrition? A large percentage of our elderly cannot afford the medications they require to stay healthy, but we still spend millions each year on official hockey jerseys.
Organized sports also participates in a criminal degree of sexism. Professional sporting events played by men command large ticket prices and the players earn huge salaries. Professional sports played by women ask low ticket prices, and many "professional" women athletes don't actually get paid.
I once looked into tickets for a basketball game at work. This was some kind of college final event. The tickets for the men's games had sold out literally before they were available to the public (the schools offer tickets to alumni first, who snap them all up then scalp them online), and were only available through scalpers (sorry, they like to be called "brokers"), and prices started at about $400 for nosebleeds. If you wanted courtside, they were at least $2,500.
To contrast, tickets to the women's events were plentiful, and had a price range of $7 - $17. Tell me that is not blatant sexism. And please, spare me justifications such as "people are willing to pay more to watch the best players play". If you are truly a fan of a sport, then the thrill comes from watching two equally matched competitors struggle against one another. There is just as much thrill in watching women play as there is in watching men.
In fact, for someone like me (who admits to his sexism), I'd rather watch women compete than men. If I have to watch a group of people get sweaty and pat each other on the ass, I'd prefer them to be women.

Obviously, I am not a sports fan. This is not to say that I do not enjoy sports. I like to play certain sports, and I enjoy watching the occasional football, baseball, or hockey game. However, I do not allow these games to occupy a significant portion of my time or attention. I recognize that in the end, football, basketball, hockey, etc. are nothing more than silly, silly games.


Paula said...

I used to be into sports when I was in high school. I was a huge Chicago Bulls fan and a Vancouver Canucks. But I outgrew this obsession. I would rather be active in my life and so watching sports does not make sense to me. I'd rather play sports, then be passive and watch sports.

Peter said...

Finally ... someone who agrees with me that professional sports are just a huge money grab.

Sports are fixed... admit it, if the US can fix a Presidential election, they can fix a game, and they have done both.

Believe me when I tell you that most, not all, but most professional sport players are laughing at the people in the crowd. They are being paid millions to make you feel tough, rugged, and macho. Real men need to wear NASCAR jackets, drink Budweiser and drive a Hummer… do I sound facetious.

And now these “professionals” get to play on Olympic teams, what a load of crap.

Professional sports is a money making business, period!
Who owns the Toronto Maple Leafs??? The Ontario Teachers Pension Plan,

I could rank for hours… but it is Ash’s blog.

Asher Hunter said...

Pete: Feel free to go to the Rant Back section, and vent away!

Anonymous said...

Peter, if I am correct in my assumption about which Peter this is, failed to disclose that he is leaving at the end of the month at the Olympic GAMES!
Okay, he's whoring for money. But still...GRIN DUCK


Peter (Torino bound) said...

The Olympic games are slightly different than "professional sports". I did rant about "professional" sports people going to the Olympics, I hate that it has fallen to that level.

BTW... the Americans started that BS in 1996 with their basketball "Dream Team".

You think the rest of the world thought that was fixed?

Asher Hunter said...

The Dream Team was pure US. "Hey, lets rub the entire worlds' noses in the fact that we're the only country that really plays this sport, send our best out to kick everyone's ass, and then gloat about how much better we are at basketball than Czechosolvakia".


Asher Hunter said...

My dog hates sports too... :)

Rach said...

I liked it better when you talked about your dog....

Auntie Bernie said...

Tee hee hee. I can't wait for Gary to read this entry!

Rach said...

I giggled out loud!

Jerry said...

Question Ash: are you mad about organized sports, or are you mad about the comercialization of sports? Or do you have problems when guys play in a beer league? (8-)


Asher Hunter said...

My rant isn't against sports, its against the disproportionate amount of our society's time, money and attention is spent focused on sports.

Don Q. said...

I have a similar reaction about professional sports in our culture (Probably worse in the US than Canada). They are just ridiculous. The amount of money that they get paid and that people pay to see them is mind-boggling.

I remember a few years ago people were very worried about what would happen to the Olympics after a story about corruption on the Olympic committee. People feared that corporate sponsors would pull out. I was praying for it! Without all that money, the Olympics might turn into a simple contest of amateurs, God forbid.

Ironically, I see nothing wrong with being a wild fan of something. I think it is good for people to dress up and scream passionately over the outcome of a game. Very cathartic. However, peole have lost sight of the fact that it is just a silly way to blow off steam rather than something of importance.

Asher Hunter said...

Don: Exactly!

Gyrobo said...

But... without sports, millions of people would be forced to see the world for what it truly is: an illusion.

Joseph P. said...

Quote that irks me:
"If you are truly a fan of a sport, then the thrill comes from watching two equally matched competitors struggle against one another."

Watching tee ball isn't fun. Watching the lowest level of Little League -- where the strike zone is from your eyes to your ankles and guys still get walked -- isn't fun. Yet, they're equally matched competitors.

The joy in watching sports is, in fact, watching the best compete against each other, despite your suggestion otherwise. Any "true" sports fan will tell you likewise.

That's not to say I don't enjoy watching less-than-elite players compete. I'm just not willing to pay $75 a seat for it.

Anonymous said...

We are dealing with corporations here...what else do you expect?


Karl said...

I too used to be into professional sports alot more than I am now. I also agree this country places too much emphasis and priority on sports. I am really surprised the Monday after the Super Bowl is not yet a national holiday. But what I think is more important is what the love of professional sports teaches our children. When people who can hardly get through college make millions of dollars to play a GAME, it really sends the wrong message about what is important in life. I sometimes think that professional athletes actually have a better handle on their importance. Just ask anyone of them how important their GAME is when one of their kids is ill or dies.

Morbid Angel said...

Great Blog Write.

I gotta admit I'm in no way a sports fan at all. Sports itself has been overtaken by evils of corporation. Sports however was pure when Hockey pinned back Canada vs Russia guys on both teams weren't paid anything obscured. Sports in itself have become sexist and only recently allowed women to play too. Olympics was something that brought together nations and stopped wars so the world could relax and play, but as commented before it too now has become tainted.

However I will say I will not waste time or money on sports but I do myself enjoy playing sports myself.

Sport games itself has done a few positive things for society but never the less it ain't feedin the starvin children.

Asher Hunter said...

Morbid Angel: Well said. I think sports themselves are great, but society has definitely put too much emphasis on their importance.

Colleen said...

Couldn't agree more that sports are a giant bore. But does this count for anything, since I am an "irrational" vegan? Oh ho ho hoooo no need for debate, but I think you'd change your tune if you had more of an understanding of it. It's easy to be like "look at those crazy vegans with their Peta," less easy to consider the actual issues vegans are concerned with.

Asher Hunter said...

Colleen: *sigh* I don't think I ever painted all vegans as "irrational", as you suggest. My original point - once again - was made against people who take a lifestyle choice and use it to justify a position of moral judgement.

I am familiar with the vegetarian/vegan issues. I was a vegetarian myself for a short period of time. I do not have a problem with vegetarians or vegans.

I was talking about intolerance, not veganism. *sigh*