Richardson: We’re no better than cavemen
Vail CO, Colorado
“Auto racing, bull fighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports … all others are games. “
” Ernest Hemingway
Placing sports heros on a pedestal is absurd. It’s idolatry, pure and simple.
What truly baffles me, though, is how professional sports players receive millions of dollars to play a child’s game while others starve. Another cause for pause is how base our society has become. Worshipping good looks, skills on the playing field and other surface aspects may be “the way the world works,” but it also puts us squarely on the track of the Romans.
Americans are guilty. We place those who play child’s games in such high regard. We support organizations that pay athletes millions of dollars … to play children’s games. Amazing. I suppose it comes down to drama. Cavemen told stories about surviving the hunt around the camp fire, modern man watches the home team either win or lose around the television. The progression is measurable.
Sports heros have been elevated to such a high degree that they have eclipsed teachers, cops, firemen and school board members. Before America was completely commercialized, professional athletes played for the love of the game. Those days are gone. Also gone are the days where professional athletes had jobs in the off season. Today, their jobs are much like a politician’s ” that is, to get back on the field (re-elected).
On the whole, amateur sports are different. But most athletes playing football, basketball, baseball or hockey are trying to make the majors. Society rationalizes these player’s goals by saying, “they paid their dues, they DESERVE to make millions of dollars. Look at how much time they’ve spent honing their craft, becoming great sports players, look at how many people they’ve inspired, see how much pain they have endured, etc.” But would they have been that inspirational without the millions of dollars attached? I doubt it.
Sports and capitalism go hand-in-hand. Markets support sports and the revenue it generates, thereby making profits for everyone involved. This cycle continues in spite of the distribution of limited resources, and that goes for physical and mental resources as well. Just think if intelligence was lauded as much as physical performance; what would professional think tanks produce? We’d have flying cars running on dice-sized fusion reactors. Instead we have professional sports for entertainment and gambling.
When did America become ancient Rome? When did the gladiators become more important than ideas? How did Americans become so shallow? When did sports marketing become more important than education?
I understand how folks get wrapped up in sports. Human nature predisposes us to congregate among people who are similar. Human nature also predisposes us to worship those who are better than ourselves.
That’s a reason people go to church, that’s why people watch sports. It’s how people interact when culture outpaces evolution.
But it’s the ugly commercialism, hero worship and idolatry associated with professional sports that is really distasteful. Placing such high regard on sports figures shows that we haven’t outpaced our caveman roots at all. Instead of worshipping those who are successful at the hunt, we’ve placed that hero worship on those who excel at children’s games. The delivery method has changed as well. Instead of gathering around the fire in the cave, we gather around the television set in the living room.
Of course, sports have a place in our society: Keeping youngsters out of trouble after school, allowing older folks to keep fit and last but not least, having fun.
But let’s not lose sight of what’s important, and that’s certainly not adults playing children’s games for money.
Web Editor Austin Richardson can be reached at 748-2911 or email@example.com.