Sports and society
A large number of us grew up playing some sort of sport in our youth and many of us still follow our favorite teams, living vicariously through them till present day. Thinking objectively, one may assume that society would view activities which involve a bunch of grown men chasing a ball around for over an hour while trash talking the hell out of each as a rather pointless exercise. In actuality though, a large swath of us continue to open our physical and digital wallets to watch sporting spectacles of all kinds either through the “idiot box” or in person. The next natural question to ask then, is why do we engage in this seeming act of folly? Well, my answer to that rhetorical question is that our affinity for sporting spectacles cannot really be understood from a logical point of view because the pull of sporting spectacles as a whole is much more emotional than logical.
Seriously though, have you ever thought of why you get so elated when Roger Federer blasts a forehand down the line past his great rival Rafael Nadal? Or why you get so utterly deflated when Aaron Rodgers leads a last minute 90 yard touchdown drive against your favorite team? Logically speaking, you should neither care nor waste time getting depressed at such things because while you’re wasting precious time on your depression, your team’s players are busy piloting their Lamborghinis and Ferraris to their million dollar homes. Even though most well adjusted adults would agree that the last statement makes a ton of sense, many people still fall prey to it. I know… it doesn’t make any sense at all but the older I get, the more I realize how little of life actually does.
Now before you go off thinking that I am just hating on sports teams and their multi-millionaire players, I should mention that nothing could be further from the truth. Quite frankly, these men and women deserve every cent they earn. It is a matter of simple mathematics to be honest. The truth is that they create a lot of value for a ton of people around the world in the form of entertainment and as a result, they deserve to get paid in proportional measure. Beyond the relatively superficial reasoning of simple supply and demand, there are deeper reasons why athletes deserve every cent they get from playing their respective sports.
If you think deep enough about it, there are many parallels between athletic contests and life. In life you’ll need a team of people to help you reach your full potential… the same thing goes for sports. In life, you’ll be faced with challenges which you’ll need to find ways to overcome… the same thing goes for sports. Unfair things will happen to you in life, and you just have to find a way to deal with them… the same thing happens in sports. The point of all these examples is to point out the fact that when we see athletes that we admire dealing with an injustice on the court the right way, or overcoming a sizeable challenge, they indirectly give a multitude of people permission to do the same in their own lives.
While recently watching my beloved Arsenal hoist the English football league’s 2017 Emirates FA cup trophy, something I had always known about sports dawned on me again. Sports is one of the few areas in life that utterly unites us humans regardless of superficial things like race, religion, and societal class. Some of the best friends I have made in my life are people from all sorts of different cultures that I have met playing sports. People who I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have ever met had I not picked up a tennis racket or a pair of soccer cleats. The great thing about playing pickup soccer or visiting a random mixed martial arts gym is that no one really cares about your ethnic background. All anyone cares about is your ability to play. If you can play, you’re cool… if you can’t, someone will help you learn how to. That to me is such a beautiful thing about sports that I wish we could each carry into our daily lives. It shouldn’t matter what the color of a person’s skin is or what religion they choose to practice… if they’re cool, they’re cool and nothing else should matter. From all of us here at chubaoyolu.org, take care of yourselves and each other.
Oyolu B.C. Ph.D.