A world with no sports? No teams? No Sunday Ticket? No ESPN? No pleasure derived from downing the phallic processed swine innards from an animal you never even met? No more visits from the most interesting man in the world? Don’t worry kiddies, business is booming and the sports world isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Rather than the typical post-modernist critique of the meaninglessness of sport a la “Keep entertaining and there won’t be complaining” this post seeks to find the meaning in its meaninglessness. Why and how sports sustain their existence despite the obvious fact that people know the reality of Ali vs. Frazier means nothing more than the bout between Mr.T and Rocky.
The spell that is cast lies hidden behind the subtexts and the massacre of logic. Minimal amounts of truth retained for the sake of its own integrity- to support the public belief in the importance of the competition. e.g. professional wrestling plays the comically stupid card by promoting dramatic myths with no competitive act whatsoever. Their manly ballet can be understood most accurately as the magical realism of competitive sports. Basketball and soccer are once removed from this level of unreality by way of its punishment for unsuccessful acting. Implicitly, fans recognize that acting plays a large role in either of these major sports and the extent to which the fiction is embellished, it’s entertainment value is negatively affected. The best actors win. Which begs the question, why is golf so boring to watch? Hmmm… must have something to do with its sterile gentleman quality and or lack of pats on the bottom. This is the moral of the Happy Gilmore story. Happy Gilmore fan-fiction coming soon to a blog near you (this one).
Here are a few popular ways of approaching the question of competition.
Nationalist: To believe in the necessity of war for the sake of power a la American-functionalist us vs. them’ers. In most cases, this is the target market of sports teams, religions and arms dealers (armed forces included). These blue-collar-red-herrings thereby condone illogical support of all powerful dictators who have decimated others in the name of greed and fear. This group includes evolutionary biologists and many people named Ted.
By thinking that money and competition and the games people play and the psychological impact these things have on the masses are not related because everyone knows that humans are naturally competitive so it is your responsibility to support the geographical location you were born into and especially the powerful government and its armed forces that protect you from the bad guys and you think these things as they monitor your every action during the singing of the national anthem, a number which is in promotion of freedom from tyranny, but that is just subjective opinion because for you, the true meaning of the song is about as vapid as the look on your face as you munch popcorn before the big strong men enter the battle but the battle is not really a battle cause they are not out there to hurt each other and so people are not really getting hurt when the game happens and the whole us vs. them mentality means nothing concerning the impact of these two teams that are working really hard to get the points to get the money for themselves and their people… so it cycles on and on, in solipsism and bad-faith, Amen.
Existentialist: Peace-seeking within to the detriment of other people living in the world. The road to hell is paved by recognizing the reality of competition as others truth generally accompanied by an impotence or lack of willingness to change anything about it. Attendance or interest in sport a product of curiosity towards the human experiment, popular culture, anthropology or Laker girls.
Transcendentalist: In the transcendental mind, there is a universe without a beginning or end, and they live somewhere outside of those parameters. The transcendental sports fan can be completely committed to denying the reality of competition while simultaneously jeering referees for their mistakes. Masters of their own deception, one day the transcendentalist strives to not strive to achieve self-immolation as triumph over the toughest albeit imaginary competition while the real competition pisses on the ashes.
Idealist: Must be interpreted as the most correct and by that I mean, all Others will eventually understand the fallacies of their thinking due to the eloquence and inherent truth to these coachings. The idealist is represented perfectly by Ellen Cherry from Tom Robbins’Skinny Legs and All
“What would happen if God snatched your balls away? You know the balls I’m referring to. Suppose a space ship flew into our atmosphere and beamed up every ball on the planet. Every last football,baseball, tennis ball, basketball, volleyball, golf ball, shot-put, softball, squash ball, soccer ball, pool ball, bowling ball, even croquet and polo balls. All of them.
What would happen? would the male population go slowly berzerk? Would blood flow in the streets? Would you boys just curl up and die?
Or would it expedite the evolution of a higher species of mammal?”
But what about the charities?
If the vaccination of society is to happen, it will not occur via NBA cared campaigns and other such obligatory labor. These are part of the slave show and athletes are required by their organization to contribute a certain amount of time and energy to a charity. The United Way slogan rewrite- doing just enough good to lower billionaires’ tax bill. These exhibitions of “good will” are merely a front for the gross socioeconomic injustice professional sports embed into a culture that sorely misunderstands the political function these entertainments play. The proof is in the pudding and by pudding I mean shit for those willing to smell it; the amount of money that owners and their cattle make from the poorer individuals that support them is the cleverest tactic to turn the caste system into a hobby or vice versa. Now if this massive amount of physical and financial energy were redirected towards something slightly more utilitarian than watching, describing, replaying and devoting ones life to a ball going up and down and up and down and up and down… I dare say we might actually make some progress towards advancing humanity? What else do you do with your time on Sunday? That is where the ball is in your court, not theirs.
Here we are, entertain us!
The most entertaining quality in sport is observing the physical spectacle, this cannot be denied. The athletes work very hard towards their conditioning and they are by all means, eugenically engineered miracles. Parents and community also devoted great amounts of refining fire to mechanically reduce the athlete’s personality into polite, ferocious, docile, competitive mental disorders; experts of flushing any professionally detrimental thoughts or understanding from the public eye. The specimen turned public-relational ego that basks in the glow of their fans desires, thereby motivated to gratify those further with their performance. Dance, monkey dance! Good monkeys. For further understanding of this sentiment, Tarantino’s “Django” wrestling scene is the appropriately sickening display of this unflinching commitment to self-indulgent behavior.
Now I know the sensitive, family-oriented fan would argue: “but, I like to watch the ball going up and down and up and down and up cause my Daddy and I used to play the game when I was little and it is really fun to watch the ball go up and down and up and down and up and down.”
As a former Mormon, I am well acquainted with institutions that take advantage of familial love (especially during those spongy formative years) in order to forward their financial causes. In complete honesty, the next time my Mom invites me to watch a Phoenix Suns game on her ticket, I won’t say no.
To this, I have but one coaching: do as I say, not as I do.
Thus spoke coach