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Questioning a Culture of Sports Viewership


      One extremely American activity is the act of sitting down on the couch with a group of friends to watch a live sporting event. There is discussion about two teams competing, about the sport in general, about particular athletes. I have enjoyed this very activity for a good portion of my life, as I have always been a committed Philadelphia Eagles fan and a fan of the NFL in general. I continued to be enthusiastic about the NFL through last season but I underwent a transition while following the Eagles at that time. I started to question the nature of professional sports teams. I began to ask myself, "What connection do I have with the Eagles?" I do not know any of the players personally, I do not know the coaching staff personally, and neither of the members of those groups care about me. Why do i devote several hours a week to watching a bunch of strange grown men beat each other up. Why do I allow the outcome of the Eagles games to influence my mood for the rest of the day? Aren't there more important things to be worried about?
      Obviously, the answer is yes, there are more important things to worry about and I now understand that watching professional sports distracts the people from things that have a more direct impact on their lives – like politics. I was shocked to realize that some people care more about the outcome of a sports game than they do about a political election or about the passage of major legislation. I was shocked that so recently, I had been such a person. 
      It is difficult and perhaps inaccurate to say that I am guilty of some crime for being ignorant all these years, and more difficult to say that others are ignorant. The reason is that watching sports is ingrained in American culture. In general, culture has a sort of gravity to it and one must occasionally resist, if not rebel, against this gravity if one hopes to attain a clear view of what culture is doing to the people who are practicing it. In this case, it is more a question of how this culture of sports allows for the government to do the people whatever it wants. 
       I understand this culture of sports is not the only problem. And to clarify, sports in general are not the problem. Playing sports builds character, relationships, and keeps one in shape. Watching sports though, occupies such a large amount of time that a person must be sacrificing some other area of their life that needs attention in order to keep up with news in the sporting world. I understand that people use watching sports to build friendships as well, but are there not any other areas with which people can connect with one another? Shouldn't a person be far more concerned with actual news than just with sporting news? And to be sure, news about celebrities is even more unnecessary and distracting. It is all related through the entertainment industry and the need for a highly developed one to control a large population of free individuals. 
     I think that pulling back the curtain is the first step. It does involve a real desire on the part of the individual to see that there is a curtain and that something is going on beyond it. A significant problem may be that there seems be only superficial interests anymore, only interest about what is happening in front of the curtain. No one asks the deeper questions, no one really considers what deeper effect an action or an activity has on a society. But I believe people are always able to change. If the curtain is pulled back for them, in the case of what the culture of sports viewership is doing, in the case of why politicians really want to get rid of unions, then perhaps people will respond. Indeed, the union battle seems to have opened eyes and gathered collective energy. I hope that the trend will continue. I hope in the long run that the people will realize the government exists for them and only because they allow it to exist. I hope they realize that they do not have to settle for the status quo, that they do not have to come to terms with a subpar government the way they must come to terms with their sports team being knocked out of the playoffs. That democracy is a spectator sport and just doesn't occur on election day. That we are all on the same team. That we have a lot of ground to make up. 

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