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The Purity of Sports

Posted by Chance on February 4, 2006

Since tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday, I thought I would make a few remarks about the topic of Sports, particularly that in America (since I don’t pay attention to sports anywhere else).

What triggers this article is a letter I read in the local newspaper a few months ago. It was a Christian minister who talked about the “corrupt” nature of sports in this day and place. He didn’t list why he thought sports in America today were corrupt, other than this particular letter focused on gender roles. He asserted that “masculinity” and “femininity” as we know them are really lies, and sports is just another way for men to dominate women (I assume indirectly since men and women usually do not compete with each other directly).

First of all, his thoughts on gender roles bothered me, because it seemed to be from the modern day liberal train of thought that men and women are actually the same, and any differences we notice are actually just a result of society’s expectations. Men and women have exactly the same interests and aptitudes. If you even infer that a male firefighters may be able to do a better job than a female firefighter, well, you are in trouble. Now, the average person’s gender roles are not perfect. While I believe the man is the head of the household, he can easily abuse that authority. And while the woman may be the more nurturing of the two, that doesn’t give the man an excuse to be an unfeeling disciplinarian.

Also, his post bothered me simply because he said sports were “corrupt”. Now, he is entitled to his opinion, and he didn’t go to much into his reasoning, other than the previously mentioned relation to gender roles. However, out of the American institutions, Hollywood, the music scene, and sports, I would argue that sports by far is the least corrupt.

Why do I believe this? Now, sports is not imperfect. Many sports figures are bad role models and are always in trouble with the law. Also, sports games typically objectify women through the skimpy cheerleader outfits (I would argue that cheerleading itself is not objectifying, just what it has become). However, these are not central themes or essential elements of sports in America.

I can watch a sports game without being indoctrinated by the values of Hollywood or the music scene (there are the commercials, but again, these exist for any form of TV entertainment). I can watch the Super Bowl without being indoctrinated about how its okay to have casual sex with different people every day, how all religions are basically the same (not a common theme, but it exists), or any other values that common in the modern media. Watching sports can be value-free, which doesn’t sound like a good thing, but who wants to get their values from TV most of the time?

Participating in sports, however, has its own value sets. Sports is all about hard work, teamwork, being the best you can be, going all out, loyalty. For the most part, sports is one arena of life where only skill matters. To politicize things even further, there is no affirmative action program for athletes (although there may be some for coaches of schools), the Lombardi trophy isn’t given to the team that needs it the most. Now, there are more “socialist” type elements in the salary caps and of course, the draft order for the professional sports, but I understand the reasoning behind this, because it is no fun for the spectators to see the same team dominating every week.

But maybe it is the above things that irk liberals so much. Now, I do not want to turn this into a liberal bashing session, but it seems like there is a hatred of American sports in certain elite liberal circles (I’m not talking about all Democrats, just more of the rich New York-type liberals), and I don’t quite understand why. Perhaps because it reflects many traditional American values that far-left liberals seem to hate. Also, pro athletes get paid insane amounts of money, but so do successful musicians and movie stars. Of course, liberals can use music and movies to get their message across, whereas I said earlier that sports is almost value free, especially when it comes to the liberal philosophy. Maybe they do not like a popular medium of entertainment that they cannot mold to their liking. Like I said earlier, sports has no agenda, and maybe this is irritating. To a liberal, everything has an agenda. The place you shop (Is it Wal-Mart or not?), the food you eat (is it organic, was it bought through fair trade?), the car you drive (does it guzzle oil and support terrorists?), nothing is safe haven from being politicized. (For a “tolerant” party, there sure is a lot of rules). This is mostly just stream of consciousness, and I doubt many liberals feel this way. However, many liberals feel that everything has to get some type of message across.
A letter to my college newspaper was written after a major football victory, and they
wondered how we can watch a football game on TV while a war is going on and millions are starving in this-or-that country. Many responded with another point about the purity of sports: Sports unites people regardless of political beliefs, religion, skin color, or social status. You think this would be important to liberals, but they see arts and culture as important and legitimate forms of entertainment, while sports are for the simpler man.

Anyway, the sports industry is far from perfect, but it beats the other forms of entertainment out there.

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