Is the importance of sports crippling us? Entering the break room at work, ESPN can always be heard. Men huddle together to discuss recent box scores and fantasy numbers. Some people even schedule work around games.
Flip on the news and you will find that prime time coverage goes to local sports teams and players. Although the country faces a debt crisis, the disintegration of liberties, and a corrupt/stagnant political system, networks still love to cover sports. Who can blame them? Its lucrative and promotes the networks that broadcast the games. Furthermore, people are entranced with sports!
Don't get me wrong, I love sports. Although the baseball season is long, I grew up listening to the majority of my favorite team's games every year. No one loved the local baseball team more than I. Getting satellite TV in high school was a dream come true for a sports fanatic like myself. However, something happened to me after that.
I began to grow up. Developing concerns for civic responsibility, my church, and my family began to take root. Although I still loved sports, devoting energy and time to other priorities forced me to disengage from sports a little. I consider it maturing or growing.
However, as I look to many of my peers, I see in them the same enthusiasm for sports that I had as a kid. Sadly, some of my peers never seem to discuss anything significant at all. I am slightly concerned I may be misunderstood on this topic. Recreation and entertainment can be healthy distractions when the challenges of life weigh too heavy. However, no distraction should be permanent. Entertainment ought to be something that enhances our lives, but not something that drives it.
The recent Vancouver riots after the final game of the Stanley Cup are a current and vivid illustration of sports being taken out of perspective. Recent sports related riots also include the cities of Los Angeles, Denver, and Boston (Source). It is becoming increasingly clear to me that the valuable lessons sports once existed to teach us are much harder to find. Perspective has been lost.
Taxpayer funded stadiums are built for teams so that more money can be collected by the league, the owners, and the players. However, there is little to no economic benefit for the taxpayer. Taxes collected should provide a specific service to all those paying in. This is not the case with publicly funded stadiums. Even if you choose not to participate in sports, most states force you to fund stadiums and thus subsidize the industry. Player contracts and owner's revenues can stay at the current and staggering levels thanks to publicly funded stadiums.
However, more concerning is what we fail to observe while continually being "entertained." My blog has previously focused on the gradual corruption creeping into government. Corruption is becoming an enormous problem and probably most notably at the executive level. While these problems were growing, did we take to the streets through peaceful demonstrations and protests? Did we rebuke our public officials and demand accountability? No, we have been contented with our distractions.
Sports are not innately evil. Lets simply keep them in perspective. They are recreation, entertainment, and a temporary distraction in life. They are games meant to teach us to win and lose with grace. Let's take some time to focus on the things that are truly important.