I’ve probably said all I’m about to say in earlier posts, but probably just as bits and pieces. Today, I’ll lay it ALL out.
My dad grew up when baseball, not football, was the American game. He lettered in it in high school, and I’m sure he was in on the action at the game shown in a photo taken on March 31st, 1946 at Ashiya Airbase in Japan, that I posted earlier (now deleted). When I was little, I remember him sometimes having a small game or doing some batting practice with my older cousins and an uncle or two. When I was a little older, he’d pitch for me as I worked to improve my horrible batting ability. If he was in the house for some reason, and a baseball or football game was on, sometimes he’d watch it, sometimes he wouldn’t. He NEVER passed up a chance of gathering at the table with his family for eating in front of the TV to watch a game. Even on holidays, he’d often go back outside after lunch and tinker on small farm chores that got put off through the week, rather than sit and watch the game. He WAS a little more likely to watch a game during bad weather.
When I was in school, we played the usual games in PE, and I noticed the coaches assumed that we all knew the rules already. I guess it’s supposed to be genetic if you’re an American. I never joined the other teams, but I did throw the shot-put and discus in 9th grade. Amusingly enough, a homeroom buddy and I were the school badminton champs in high school (because he was tall and I was sneaky). I went to most of the home games in high school, partly because I knew the boys playing, and partly because it made for an inexpensive date for a poor country boy. After high school, I made a slight effort to follow the boys that went to college and played on their teams, but after they graduated college, I couldn’t have cared less about the games.
Though even some of my country class-mates were into organized sports, I was into archery, hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, horseback riding, wild foods, farming, sawmilling, old-time country ways, history, target shooting, coin collecting, stamp collecting and trapping. You’ll notice that most of those things have an obvious practical tie-in for a guy who likes country life. Nearly all can be handy skills in hard times, even history, if you’re willing to learn from it.
Now, a lot of those defending sports tell how it fosters teamwork. Yet, even though my interests were sometimes solitary pursuits, I’ve never had any problem with teamwork on the job. I think it’s simply a matter of maturity. Sports ARE good exercise for folks who might otherwise be lying around watching TV, but ONLY if THEY are the ones playing them! THERE, is my main point. Sports should be played, not watched. If you’re only watching someone else play a game, you need a life. Yet, sports ARE some people’s life. They spend enough money to take their family on a week’s vacation just to go to a big game and eat, drink, scream and cuss. Parents have literally killed referees and parents of the opposite team at their child’s game. “Sports fans” have literally killed gotten into arguments, and then fights, with supporters of opposing teams and killed them. Thankfully, very few fans are that extreme, but I’ve seen MORE than a few ready to throw punches over a ballgame. It’s childish and it’s ridiculous.
We don’t want to admit it, but many of us are no better than the heathens who filled the ancient coliseum, to watch gladiators fight to the death. The guy that yells “kill the ump” is no different than the fellow who gave the “thumbs down” at the coliseum. Football, boxing and cage fighting are all gladiator “sports.” People are perfectly fine with the “players” getting hurt. In fact, I believe many WANT to see that sort of thing, just like some race fans love the crashes and some folks watch high-wire acts waiting for someone to fall.
With all the concussions they’re discovering in football players, I think it’s time we go to flag football. Boxers should wear helmets and win by points, not knock-outs. Cage fighting, like dog fighting and cock fighting, should simply be illegal. Yes the games would change, there would be fewer concussions and other injuries in football and it would become more of a running game, and less about bone-crushing force. Boxing fans would no longer get the satisfaction of seeing a man lying unconscious in the ring. Maybe it’s time we act as civilized as we like to think we are.
And then there’s the money. Some folks will jump to the conclusion that I’m jealous, but no, I don’t mind folks who become HONESTLY rich in business. Others will say that it’s entertainment (which it is) and singers and movie stars make big money, which is true. But who says that they SHOULD? Yet, we live in what remains of a free market society, so people with warped priorities will continue to support the huge salaries of sports figures, while sometimes lying on their couch at home, not even bothering to vote or go to a town council meeting. (Yes, I KNOW that many of you are active, but fewer than would want to admit it.) Some folks will point out that sports figures only have a few prime years and that they have to make their life’s fortune while they can. No-one can argue that point, but that is why they SUPPOSEDLY went to college on scholarships, so they would have something to fall back on when their glory days are over.
All-in-all, my view of sports can be summed up in the photo below. © 2016