Most of us in America have been to a professional sports game. Whether it was baseball, football, basketball or even hockey or soccer, it was probably memorable. The thrill of the action of the game, the roar of the crowd, the adrenaline rush that even a fan gets at the game is all unmistakable.
Marilyn LaCourt describes team sports as the “officially sanctioned state religion that is idolized across all cutural, ethnic, age, gender and religious lines.” I agree with her. The rivalry of sports teams can breed an almost feral rage between opposing fans. Fist fights break out in bars and even the stands at a live game fairly often. But, what does this tell us?
From a young age, we often push kids, more often boys for some reason, into team sports. It’s supposed to teach teamwork and build character; at least, that’s what we tell ourselves. In reality, no matter what we say, winning becomes very important. Children will do anything to make their parents proud of them, and in team sports, they often do. They’ll push through their own injuries, cheat, fight or anything else it takes to win just to make their parents or coaches proud of them.
Before you say “kids will be kids,” remember, parents are often worse. I’ve seen parents get in fist fights over an umpires’ call at little league or even t-ball games. They will uproot their family to get in the right school district so their child can play on the best team. They encourage doing whatever it takes to win from beginning to end.
In high school, it gets worse. More violent hazing takes place amongst players. The best and most aggressive athletes become part of the team. Those that don’t make the cut often find other teams to fight alongside, on the streets more often than not. I’ve seen knife fights after high school football games. I’ve seen second string quarterbacks do whatever they can to put the quarterback out of the game so that they get the shot.
So, my question is, why do we, as rational, secular people, continue to endorse these things? Team sports are inherently violent, overly competitive and all too often breed a worse kind of character. So can we, as secular people, give up our worship of sports too?
Contributor: Robert Sacerich
Robert is a Philosophy of Science and Bioethics student, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes.
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