Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Sports and the supposed idea of role models...

Well, you can live in the real world, or you can live in a fantasy, called "SportsLand". In Sportsland, you can be rude and push people around under the guise that you more or less feel like it because you're not accountable for your actions -- you're an important member of an elite team of idiots who can do whatever you want to whomever you want, whenever you want. If young fans are watching, your behavior is not important. One time in the past, this was the opposite, but today, just check out the latest ruling here.

What makes Kenny Rodgers think he can just walk around pushing down camera men? Is it his special status in life as a baseball player? If he was at work at a job, he would likely have been fired for this behavior, but not in SportsLand, where your needed status as a baseball player for a money-making major-league team makes all of your rudeness and stupidity par for the course (should I say diamond here? Who cares, it's just more of the fantasy).

Sports, in America, is a distraction (for the audience), a business (for the owners) and a joke (for the moral, now). Steroid use, drugs, sex and the inevitable ego-trip of being an elite member of our society. One day baseball players may make the ranks that lawyers and politians have attained: That of morally-bankrupt upper-tier citizens who don't live by the same rules as everyone else. Wait, maybe they're already there. Good job Kenny, you helped push your kind up a notch, whilst making every kid in America know that when it comes to SportsLand, there are no rules -- if you're a valuable player for the "team".

And so here we are -- no one asking the really hard questions about sports. What is it, really? What makes baseball a noble endeavor, if not fairness? And I'm not talking about stealing bases here, I'm talking about the whole concept of honor? Why all the focus upon rules, if this is how they're held up in real life? Why indeed.

One of my favorite commentators is Frank DeFord (you can hear him Wednesdays on NPR). It will be interesting to hear what he has to say. I'll level with you, I honestly have hated most spectator sports all my life. I simply can't watch. I'm more into things I can participatein (no,I don't even "watch" TV, generally). Up until now, I was more or less neutral about it. I felt that the idea of a ton of more or less brainless spectators watching people play a game was offset by the fact that people could bond in large quantities. I love Frank, though -- he's more than entertaining and his viewpoint has shed a lot of light on what made sport more than a bonding exercise -- through his eyes I've come to appreciate it much more.

That was my stance; the world with or without sports was probably a wash. I've changed my mind -- if stuff like this continues, people are better off without it. As an exercise for big business and bankrupt morality, it takes from society all that it might have given back.

Deeper analysis, however, is in order. What makes sports such a draw for the male ego, anyway? I'm sure to offend here, so I'll continue ;) In a nutshell, here goes. Males are into the idea of "winners" and "losers". We like the idea of competition where crossing a particular line in the sand makes us "better" than the other guy. We love it, actually.

Unfortunately, there's a very real aspect of life and society in general that keeps nagging at the backs (and sometimes fronts) of our consciousness. That unfortunate fact is that most of life is not about winning and losing -- it's about compromise. You don't "win" your paycheck -- it's a draw, or a balance. Sometimes it's one way or the other, but in fact, it's mostly an agreement between you and your employer.

Your marriage to your wife is similar -- you both agree on some basic things and you both win -- or lose. Rarely do you see a husband "winning" the game of marriage. A trip to the bank stands up to similar analysis. In fact, short of lotto tickets and court cases (both more of the same contrived realities), there's very little about life and society that is not a compromise. Fist fights come to mind -- but again, they deal with illegal activity and stuff that's about the destruction, not construction, of society.

So we're back to the question: Why are sports, especially spectator sports, so popular among males. The obvious (to me) answer: here's something that re-enforces the crap-job society did raising us with the belief that life is all about "winners" and "losers". Here's a game we, with our forced (usually dumbed-down) intellects, can easily understand. One with simple rules that are easy to judge. Easier than real life, that is. Definitely easier than say, negotiating for the price on a car, or a raise.

Bear in mind that I say this as a male who's rebelled (long ago) against the whole idea that I was going to be some kind of walking gorilla that shaves. Looking at sports through Martian glasses, I came to these conclusions long ago. I also thought long and hard and said "well, if this is the only way these apes can bond, it's not so bad". But I'm changing my mind. Now it's teaching our young males that morality in real life for these elite simpletons is a second thought.

And for that I urge you, the offended males in the audience, to think long and hard about the real lessons that your kids are learning from watching Kenny Rodgers play hard ball.

1 comment:

FeriCyde said...

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