To stop and think about it for a little while, it’s a little embarrassing how much time, money and thought we as a society spend on following professional sports. Billions of dollars are taken in by professional sports organizations globally and we willingly and gladly give it to them. Professional athletes are rewarded with multimillion dollar contracts that make the paycheques of doctors and lawyers look like the sum of my weekly allowance as a child. But why do these facts make it seem like something is wrong with civilization? Perhaps it is the fact that sports seem so tribal and an expression of our primitive ape within us. But this is the precise reason I will give for my justification for enjoying it so much.
As a species by nature we are drawn together to belong to a group. We are a tribal species who, for the majority of the time that the human species have existed, have lived their entire lives in small hunter gatherer bands (usually 10-50 people). By necessity, we developed an extremely co-operative and benevolent relationship with the people we lived with. We created unique identities for our bands and tribes by way of cultural practices to signify the difference. We marked ourselves with tattoos and wore different colours. We began circumcising our young boys, (occasionally girls) stretched our lips, ears and other gruesome body modifications. We were proud of our tribe to the extent that we physically fought other human tribes over territory, resources, religion and probably just bragging rights as well.
As humans began living in larger groups and the global population began rapidly increasing. This attitude would always lead to violence throughout human history. It becomes incredibly more tragic when our tribal attitudes create racist identities that lead to genocide and slavery. And our religious sects that have caused crusades, terrorism and holy wars. And our nationalistic pride that has sent countless of millions of young people to their death in pointless international and world wars.
Now compared to the damage that our primitive collective, tribal attitudes have done to the progress of human beings, sports seem rather harmless. In fact I believe it’s a healthy expression of what it means to be a human being. Yes we are tribal, but it can be expressed in non-violent ways that bring more people together than divide them. Sure there are exceptions when sporting events end in violent acts.
|....cough...cough... I’m looking at you Vancouver!|
But for the most part people get a great amount of peaceful enjoyment out of watching their home city team beat their rival team. So you shouldn’t feel guilty about coughing up money for a ticket to a Calgary Flames game or enjoying a drink or five at your buddies’ house while watching the Superbowl. And those meatheads who make 27 million a year to smack a ball with a bat? Well they are providing an essential service to society. Sure sports are silly when viewed objectively but so is most other things we enjoy.