#2. Watching Sports Makes You a Worse Person
Here's a brutally depressing commercial that I'm going to put right here in my comedy article anyway. I'm gonna get so fired someday.
That ad points out that when England gets kicked out of the World Cup, domestic violence incidents rise by 38 percent. What it doesn't mention is that they rise 26 percent even if the team wins. Basically, watching soccer makes British people turn into violent assholes. Yes, even more so than normal.
He's about to drop that monocle, sharpen it into a shiv, and cut your heart out with it.
You think that shit's isolated to a country where "quality eating" means a sheep's liver wrapped in bear scrotum? Wrong: Here in the good ol' USA, losses in football lead to a spike in domestic violence in that team's home town, and those spikes are bigger in games between traditional rivals or if there are a lot of turnovers and penalties.
Sure, that article insists that this doesn't necessarily say that football necessarily makes you a violent shitbird, or is more attractive to them -- just that it concentrates all that dickitude into one isolated period of time. A beating that may have "been postponed" instead happens on Sunday.
But that doesn't gel with what we know about the World Cup, does it? That's not an event that happens every year, and if you compare it to the same season in previous years, you see an uptick in violence. So yeah, there's a connection.
Again, I'm not saying that sports are inherently evil things. I'm saying that the way we talk about sports, and the way we think about them in a professional setting ... are inherently evil things. And it's time we changed that. First off, by accepting that ...
#1. Your Team Has Nothing to Do With Your Town
The closest I ever came to getting into sports was back in 2004, when the Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in nearly a hundred years. I was living just north of Boston at the time, and it was the most I'd ever felt like I was part of a community, like I was swept up in a fervor that was bigger than the world. I remember getting excited about Johnny Damon, a Jesus-lookin' guy who seemed so genuine when he promised he could never play for the Yankees, the hated rivals of the Red Sox.
He's like if Kurt Russell and Jesus had a baby.
I remember that final out, hearing the guy who lived above us whoop in excitement, the same way he'd whooped at the end of every game in that series, and being vaguely surprised to learn that people actually whooped in real life. I remember people crying with joy and feeling excited to actually own and wear a Red Sox hat. I'd never been into sports before, but man, with these endorphins, I could suddenly totally understand -- wait, what's this? Johnny Damon signed with the Yankees a year later? Because Damon's from Kansas and has no real reason to feel any allegiance to Boston anyway? Turns out this kind of thing happens all the time.
This could've been a heartbreaking story that I told later to my grandkids to show how loyal I was to this sports team, to show off how I stayed by the team even when they hurt me, but instead it just made me realize that I was rooting for someone's fucking paycheck. I've talked before about how "sellout" is a stupid term in art because artists need money and there's no reason to fault them for that. The difference here is that sports are about the competition, and competition is utterly meaningless without allegiance. You don't watch Game of Thrones because you're rooting for HBO -- but you do watch your favorite sports team because you want them to beat out the competition. But if the opposing team is richer and can buy the best players, what the hell does it even mean? Professional sports is just how rich people play Magic: The Gathering.
Donald Miralle/Digital Vision/Getty Images
QUARTERBACK uses SLAM DUNK. It's SUPER EFFECTIVE!
In theory, I could totally get into sports. I am super competitive, relish any opportunity to hate somebody, totally get off on screaming, and am a fucking expert at sitting down and eating nachos. But this isn't fiction -- the whole idea only works if there's an ounce of reality to it, and right now it seems about as real as that episode of The Bachelor where a lady talks to a raccoon for five minutes.