When I was growing up, I was a sports fanatic. I literally had to be dragged from the street by my mom if I was in the middle of a baseball game and dinner was ready. And I lived and died by the fortunes of my teams. If my team won, all was right with the world. If my team lost, I was sullen until it won again.
But then things began to change when I found myself on the cusp of high school. It started with professional basketball. I loved the Nets and Dr. J. And I loved going to the Nassau Coliseum to watch the Nets play. But then the Nets moved to New Jersey and Dr. J was traded to Philadelphia. Professional basketball was never the same. I started watching fewer regular season games. Then I just watched the playoffs. Eventually, the only thing that held my interest was the finals. By the time I was a freshman in college, I stopped watching completely.
This same phenomenon repeated itself with the three other major sports. I would lose interest in the regular season, then the playoffs, and finally the championship round. By the time the 90s rolled around, I was done with professional baseball. By the time I relocated to Charlotte in 2006, I was done with professional hockey. And as of last year, I’ve washed my hands of professional football. I only watched one game, and that was because I went to it. My childhood buddies and I ventured up to Lambeau Field to experience a Green Bay Packer game (yes, it was a bucket list thing).
And here’s my overriding message regarding my de-sportification: it’s freakin’ awesome. You don’t need professional sports to bring joy and meaning to your life. In fact, I would venture to say that professional sports are a major impediment to a fulfilling life. When I was “into” professional sports, I was little more than a irritable, yell-at-the-television lout.
But perhaps you’re skeptical. And that’s fair. As a renowned blogger (guffaw, guffaw), it’s incumbent upon me to prove my case. Here then are ten reasons why you should abandon professional sports.
Ten Reasons Why You Should Abandon Professional Sports
It’s silly. When you think about it, professional sports are nothing but grown men running around in costumes. The least ridiculous costumes are in basketball. But even here, things can get absurd. In the 70s, shorts were tight and cut off just below the crotch. Up until recently, they were baggy and cut off at the knee. Baseball’s getting better. I never understood the stirrup, and I’m glad most players now forego them. But the armor many batters are now encasing their exposed arms in is crazy. Hockey and football costumes are highly functional but still bizarre. Imagine going to work and putting your hand in a waffle or your head in a hardened shell of plastic stuffed with foam and partially covered with metal?
It doesn’t matter. You know what you get when your team wins the championship? You get to say your team won the championship. That’s it. You still have the same crappy job and the same crappy pay.
There are too many damn commercials. Check out this clip from the first ever Monday Night Football game. It shows the first commercial break aired during the game. And what’s remarkable about it is that it occurred well into the first quarter and only consisted of one commercial. Today, regardless of the professional sport, commercial breaks not only occur more frequently but are also an insufferable slew of inane pitches that will easily consume three to four minutes of your life.
The owners don’t care about you. The Baltimore Colts left Baltimore in the middle of the night for Indianapolis. The Cleveland Browns then filled this void by moving to Baltimore and changing their name to the Ravens. The St. Louis Rams recently moved to Los Angeles, which is good because that’s where the Rams originally hailed from. And because Los Angeles is such a hotbed of football fanatics, the San Diego Chargers decided to move there too. The Oakland Raiders once moved to Los Angeles before returning to Oakland (maybe Los Angeles isn’t such a hotbed for football after all). Now they’re moving to Las Vegas. I could go on, of course. Musical-chair franchises are a feature of every major professional sport. But you get the idea. Owners care a lot more about taxpayer subsidies than they care about you. If another city offers them a better deal, they’ll abandon you, the cherished fan, in a heartbeat.
The players don’t care about you. Players are every bit as businesslike as the owners. If playing for another team will put millions more in their pockets, they’ll happily dump one set of face-painters for another. And who can blame them? They’re putting their bodies and brains at terrible risk. One horrific example of this occurred on the ice in Buffalo when an errant skate sliced across a goalie’s neck and cut his internal carotid artery. (Don’t watch if you’re squeamish. Very graphic.) So players would be foolish to not follow the money. You, in turn, should act accordingly. Understand sports are a business, and don’t get emotionally attached to any player.
It’s expensive. Were I still living on Long Island, here’s what it would cost to watch every game of my favorite New York teams and go to at least one of their home games.
$959.88 ($79.99/month) for Optimum’s Value Package, which includes ESPN, MSG, and SNY.
$146.54 to go to a Jet game (ticket + beer + hot dog + parking, gas, and tolls).
$96.81 to go to a Met game (ticket + beer + hot dog + parking and gas).
$163.41 to go to an Islander game (ticket + beer + hot dog and fries + Long Island Railroad round trip fare).
To be a “true” fan on Long Island, it would cost me $1,366.64 annually. Invest that same amount of money every year for 40 years at 8% and you would have $352,680.
How does that make you feel? Do you really want to give $352K to owners and players that don’t give a rat’s ass about you?
It’s a great time suck. From April to November, you can literally spend three hours every night watching a professional baseball game. From September to January, you can literally spend ten hours every Sunday watching professional football. Now imagine how much better your life would be if you devoted that time to making your spouse happy, or doing something with your kids, or learning a new skill?
It’s passivity run amok. Winners aren’t sitters. Winners don’t get fulfillment by watching other people pursue glory. Winners are doers. Winners are adventurers. And what muscle do you suppose is exercised when you watch hours upon hours of professional sports? Is it your get-up-and-grab-life-by-the-face muscle? Or is it your sit-on-your-ass-and-plop-Pringles-into-your-mouth muscle? Professional sports are the enemy of vigor and zeal. The more you watch them, the more your get-up-and-grab-life-by-the-face muscle will atrophy.
It’s insulting. I knew professional football had finally lost me when I tuned into a pregame show a couple of years ago and I couldn’t get over the tailored suits worn by the hosts. Really guys? You’re not hosting Masterpiece Theatre or handing out Nobel Prizes to Laureates in Sweden. You’re giving your take on a game in which huge men smash into each other at great speeds. Do you really need $2,000 suits to set the stage for such a majestic undertaking? Flannel shirts and jeans wouldn’t suffice?
To be fair, pompousness isn’t confined to NFL pregame hosts. It’s oozing out of every pore of professional sports, from the owners and league officials to the coaches, players, and announcers. And I just don’t get it.
Note to those who bring us professional sports: You’re not involved in anything regal or important. You’re not curing cancer or fixing global warming. If you all disappeared tomorrow the world would still spin on its axis. Get over yourselves.
Side note: I long for the day when the losing coach of the Super Bowl breaks script and comes to the post-game press conference in a jovial mood. When the shocked reporters question his merry attitude, he kindly retorts: “Hey, guys, loosen up. I’m disappointed with today’s outcome. But remember, we lost a game. We didn’t get blown up by a roadside bomb in Iraq.” Such an occurrence would not only be refreshing, it would inject some much needed perspective into a society driven mad by a meaningless game.
It’s unseemly. I have no problem with kids wearing football or hockey jerseys. It’s harmless fun. But adults wearing football or hockey jerseys? I don’t know. It strikes me as kind of gay. And I don’t mean that in a sexual sense. I mean it in a idolatry sense. What self-respecting adult worships another adult? Or better yet, what self-respecting adult proclaims his or her beta status by adorning a jersey with some dude’s name on it and then freaking out like a Price is Right contestant whenever his or her “hero” does something noteworthy on the field?
My favorite two lines in the song Take Me Out to the Ballgame are these:
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don’t win, it’s a shame.
Notice how the songwriters said if your team doesn’t win it’s a shame. They didn’t say if your team doesn’t win it’s time to sack the city.
In a sane world, professional sports would be about as consequential as Hollywood movies. Nobody storms out of a movie theater and starts smashing things if Steven Spielberg’s latest contribution to cinema is a flop. Nobody gets into a fistfight over who the best director or actor is.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with sports. But if you really love something, don’t watch it, do it. Get out and toss a football. Join a softball league. Go to the driving range and hit some golf balls.
And if you’re looking for an inexpensive escape for a few hours, go to a high school football game or a minor league baseball game. Don’t let professional sports become an all-consuming affair. It’s a waste of time, money, and dignity.
Okay, groovy freedomist. That’s all I got. What say you? Did I nail the foolishness of being consumed with professional sports? Or is my anti-professional sports screed the thing that’s really foolish. Let me know what you think when you get a chance. Peace.