Wednesday, October 29, 2008

why sports are bad

Indoctrination of adults into arbitrary political categories for which they will later be expected to give their hard earned money, their loyalty and possibly their lives begins with the culture of sports in childhood.

The process is deceptively simple and by the time we are sophisticated enough to recognize it we are too far indoctrinated to question it.

At a very young age, which decreases as time moves forward, we are taught to identify with a team either through participation or simply because we happen to live in a particular place. As children we attend high school football games, soccer matches, gymnastics meets, martial arts tournaments etc. and we learn to identify with a particular group for reasons that are entirely arbitrary.

We are expected to show team spirit and hostility to the other teams. This territorial impulse is then massaged and manipulated into hysteria for this or that college team, pro team, celebrity, driver, wrestler, fighter etc.

Suddenly when we realize that we are grown up and living in a world where people fight wars and kill each other over ideas we naturally cling to the notions of our home team. We put "support the troops" bumper stickers on our cars, pay taxes to buy weapons and in some cases sacrifice our health or lives for our home team.

The merits of the "others", as we are taught to think of them, are never considered. Whether or not those whom we as a nation happen to be killing at the moment have any merits is really not the issue. The dangerous element of sports is that it precludes us from thinking about that question of merit altogether. If the Soviets can be our allies during WWII, then our mortal enemies during the cold war, without fundamentally changing anything about their ideology one can only assume that their classification as ally or enemy is arbitrary and rests on political notions that have no basis in philosophy.

Similarly if Saddam Hussein can be a great bulwark of security and friend to the U.S. while he is at war with Iran, and then a dictator deserving of death when he defies his master we must again ask, how can this reassignment of value occur so arbitrarily with no one asking questions.

Because we have been taught to "root for the home team, if they don't win it's a shame."

Sports is our first lesson in how not to think, but to act blindly in service of those in power.

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