Sports and I never got along
Back in the day, if a person couldn’t move or think quickly, he’d die. He’d be eaten, fall off a cliff, whatever.
So, most people are born with levels of coordination. They can move their hands, feet and think their bodies into patterns of motion. These patterns may have been useful for taking down large animals or arranging ourselves in masses of force to be brought against other people, but eventually, they became cultural games we call “sports.”
Now “for sport” used to surround activities mirrored from hunting/fighting. Archery competitions were just like hunting or war, but were “for sport.” Hunting itself eventually became “for sport” as food was available in ample supplies through agriculture.
Check out the very early days of the Samurai (before the Sengoku period). Battles were won/lost based on contests of skill, not on numbers of men on the field. Even when troops would gather, it would be to support their champions as they competed in sports. One athlete would win and that would be in the end of the battle. Of course that only lasted so long. Eventually “might makes right” trumped honoring the outcome of some contest, and Sengoku Jidai began. But for a while, sport was the ultimate showdown—shaped the fate of thousands and all that crap.
Our games like football, soccer, basketball, etc. are also games of sport. Maybe they are based on battlefield tactics, combat or some sort of arena-style events; maybe not. Regardless, those who throw themselves on the altar of sport now do it as a matter of entertainment. It’s not needed, it’s wanted.
Moreover, those who watch sports do so because they like it. It’s no longer in an attempt to admire the best fighter/shooter/horse rider. It is to admire, sure—but now for the icon, the hero of the moment, the champion of *fill in the blank activity*. There are not any direct links to prowess in any usable skill and most sports (master swordsmen may have survived long enough in war to become generals; master horse riders for the same reasons; but football, baseball? For all the billions of dollars and thousands of hours we spend worshiping these men/women, what do we want from them? Role models? Leaders?)
All of that being a big, puffy hot-air attempt to mask the fact that I suck at sports.
I do. I’m no good at them. Basketball, baseball, softball—hell, even kickball; I’m occasionally lucky, but generally terrible. And it’s embarrassing. What seems to come so naturally to thousands of kids is lost on me.
I perhaps could get better, but I am of the very unpopular opinion of not liking them. Whereas in Roman times it was very poor form to dislike races and gladiatorial games, these days, I dislike sports.
Not sure what fuels the dislike. Again, maybe it’s the days of getting pushed around and worn down by the alpha males out there (didn’t have the girth to hold my own in middle/high school). Yet there are plenty of wimpy/out-of-shape fans who also suck at sports and yet have painted faces and spend $1,000s to attend games.
And I don’t think it’s some high-and-mighty detachment—like I’m above it somehow. It’s actually pretty cool that people cherish those awesome moments with their teams. I got to see a really good friend of mine see his lifelong team, the Boston Red Sox, break their curse and beat the Yankees—and later win the World Series back in 2004 (before it was trendy to like the Red Sox). For him, it was this cosmic Zen kind of moment. It was actually pretty sweet watching him watch the games.
But for me? Didn’t feel anything. Sure it was kind of cool seeing the underdog come through, but I didn’t have tears in my eyes. It didn’t strike me that hard.
So I dunno. Am I missing something? Apart from the God-shaped hole in my heart, is there a sports-shaped fissure that also could use some filling? At this point I’m on the fence.
I liken being a non-sports fan to being a vegetarian. You have to endlessly endure questions about a personal decision; and after enough times, you often come up with reasons to present to the public. Often those replies can be snarky or biting, (or painfully accurate) which, after years of being called out, they would be. So then you’re known as the all-in-your-face vegetarian or non-sportser. It’s a catch-22.
I played a lot of sports when I was young, and I don’t think you are missing anything. I think sometimes sports are a way for moms to get the rowdy kids out of the house for a few hours in the summer. If you broke a lot of stuff in the house, you were signed up for little league. Eventually you start to enjoy hanging out with your friends and playing whatever. But shortly after high school, all of that goes away. Eventually I played city league softball because I wasn’t good enough to make a college team and city league was all I had. Very few people took it serious, and the ones who did took it way too serious. The thing about sports is they are usually organized, and feature people of similar skill level. When all you have are “pick-up games” it loses lots of appeal. I felt like someone trying to hang onto something that was long gone. So I let it go. So it’s still cool to watch baseball, but it’s not too terribly different of being a fan of anything else. I made lots of memories with my friends, but sports were just one of the things we did. If there is something in your life you really enjoy, then you don’t have a space missing a specific type of plug. All the gaps are filled.