Monday, October 1, 2012

Why I Love and Hate Professional Sports

Giddy from the incredible Broncos win yesterday (woo!)  I got to thinking about why I simultaneously love and hate professional sports. Like so many topics, industries, and issues, I have mixed feelings about professional sports so, like all good bloggers, I compiled a list to help sort this out...

LOVE: Being a fan of a sports team build community and appreciation around a city/town/college. As I walked around the Sports Authority Field parking lots yesterday, Broncos fans were hanging out, having fun, meeting new people, sharing stories and beers all because we have one thing in common, a mutual interest in our team. Often just wearing a sports team t-shirt can garner you high-fives and hellos from perfect strangers. The mutual love for a team breaks down barriers, unites people together in light-hearted fun and reminds us all why we love our city.

HATE: Sometimes this hometown pride and adoration are taken too far. After so many major league wins fans somehow translate their excitement into debauchery, destruction and violence (examples here, here and here, just to reference a few). I first noticed this ridiculous reaction when I was in high school and the Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup. Drunken fools took to the city, looting, rioting and harassing police officers to celebrate the win. Cars were burned, businesses were damaged, and people were injured ---um seriously!? See video:

People feel so strongly about their favorite team and place so much value on winning that they lose sight of actual reality and what is socially acceptable adult behavior. Not to mention the ridiculous amounts of fan on fan violence that occur every year. Just because some dude is wearing a shirt from an  opposing team does not mean you get to beat him up (and possibly leave him permanently brain damaged i.e. Brian Stow). C'mon son.

LOVE: Athletes are hot. Sports are erotic. I am not above oggling the spandex encased, buns of steel that most NFL players are sportin' or the rock hard, tattooed arms of every NBA player. Yes, I objectify athletes. But I am doing so with the utmost respect for their talent and all of the hard work they have had to dedicate to obtaining their statuesque physiques. I appreciate your muscles and your spandex - go team!

HATE: Female athletes and women's leagues are not treated equally by fans, industry or higher education. Just like every other industry female athletes are paid less and have fewer educational, promotional, and career opportunities than male athletes and are neatly kept in sexism's confines even when they are kicking ass and taking names in their respective sports (this can and will be it's own blog post one day). Let's just say sexism and the constructs of the traditional gender binary are alive and well within professional and collegiate sports and I know the matriarchs of the modern feminist movement are turning over in their graves whenever another lingerie bowl is televised.

LOVE: Athletes are idolized for being great at a sport. They have to not only be in great physical shape, but they make health and fitness their number one priority, as it is their lifeline and profession. Professional sports and athletes influence their fans to exercise, play games and adopt healthier lifestyles. Even if little boys are only working out and practicing their sport so they can obtain their dream of becoming a rich dude who gets to date models, then whatever, at least they aren't contributing to the horrifying American obesity epidemic.

HATE: Americans are obsessed with sports and hold them sacred, above many other, more important things. How many of us can quote our favorite player's college stats but don't know who our last Secretary of State was? You may keep abreast of the latest famous athlete gossip (who cheated on who, who has a gambling problem, who is running an illegal dog-fighting ring in their backyard, etc.) but have no idea what female genital mutilation, sex-trafficking, or honor killings are. The average American teenager probably knows more about professional sports history than they do about American history. If we had half as much interest in real world issues that we do in professional sports then major problems would get the attention they deserve (and fans may take to Twitter to protest ballot issues, health care problems and civil rights violations, not just to complain about the shitty NFL replacement refs.)

Professional sports are meant to be entertainment! Fun, community events, that people can enjoy with friends and loved ones. They are not an excuse to act like a fool, destroy property, hurt others or disregard every else that is happening in the world.

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