5 Reasons You Should Hate Professional Sports
I am not a sportser. I do not sport, nor do I mingle among sportsed or sporting folk. And what you have to understand is that for people who grew up not caring about professional sports, being a "sports fan" seems just as weird and alien as being a brony, a furry, or a comedy writer. Scheduling your day around a game that other people play and having an emotional response to whether they win or lose seems super weird to me, sure, and I'll make jokes about how dumb you are ("You sure are dumb!" I'll say, and then laugh and laugh, slapping my belly to add a rhythmic punctuation to my chortles), but I won't actually make the argument that what you're doing is bad for society. OK, fine: Yes, I totally will. Right now. In this very article.
Now, I don't think sportings themselves are bad. Competition and having fun outside are great for the body and soul, I'm told, and I wouldn't want to take that away from anyone. No no no, the institution of professional athletics is the festering pile of social ills that I'm tackling today. Because it's the worst fucking thing. Just the worst.
Sports Team Names Are Stupid
Let's start off with something simple, factual, and non-controversial: College sports team names are dumb. Every single one of them. Literally as dumb as a butt.
The idea is that sports teams are named after something important in their community's history, but as Cracked Workshop Moderator and Researcher Evan V. Symon pointed out to me, they aren't that at all. The Toronto Raptors, for example, are so named because they held a contest around the time that Jurassic Park was popular, and everyone thought "raptors" sounded cool. The Anaheim Ducks are named after the Disney movies about a kids' hockey team and Emilio Estevez's dedication to douchebaggery. And the Washington Redskins are named after some fucking asshole who pretended to be a Native American to get attention.
People have been arguing for decades in defense of naming a sports team after a racist turd-snorter. That's where these priorities are right now. Which should make it less surprising that ...
College Sports Are Bad for Schools
Varsity sports are fucking a big, bloody hole right in the center of the American education system, and laughing the entire time. If we did away with all varsity sports -- yes, all of it, today -- the world would be a better place. I'm serious, why do we play sports in college at all? What's the fucking purpose? Aren't those supposed to be schools? Aren't we supposed to be teaching people about the real world?
Like the importance of bow ties.
"But sports bring in money!" you spit desperately at your computer screen. No, they don't: Sports teams are actually massive financial drains on their colleges, with only 10 percent turning a profit. Most colleges end up more like the University of Michigan, which lost $7 million over two seasons.
"But that's good for the college's prestige!" you cry deliriously, flapping your elbows like bird wings and rubbing peanut butter on your exposed chest (it's so easy to make you sound ridiculous when I'm describing you, and also you're fictional). Ah yes, you poor fool, you've fallen directly into my trap: Sports have no correlation with academic prestige. Ivy League schools consistently suck at sports, refusing to award scholarships for athletics or compromise academic standards, and that's never stopped them from being Ivy League fucking schools. So sports are less a source of prestige and more of an alternative to it. So unless you can tell me how the $450 million spent renovating this stadium at Texas A&M University wouldn't have been better directed toward, say, the faculty or academic resources, I'll just stick with the fact that college sports are awful and can go to hell.
And that's just the beginning. Because once you move beyond college, you realize ...
It's an Outrageous Waste of Your Money
The LA Dodgers spent $235 million on player salaries last year. And that's just one example: Over in Minnesota, they just spent $678 million on a new complex. Oh, wait, I'm sorry, that number's wrong: $678 million refers to how much of it is coming out of local taxes. The total price is $975 million.
You might think that this is justified because it's an investment in the community, but that's not true either: According to every analysis of subsidies for sports teams, they suck money right on out of the community and into the pockets of the rich folks behind the scenes. And the players, obviously. Our tax money is just offsetting the costs for the billionaires -- even though the enterprise would already be profitable. Did I mention that the NFL is a nonprofit organization that pays its commissioner $30 million a year?
I realize I'm throwing a lot of numbers at you in a comedy article, so just think about this: Why is this money being spent at all? This is a fucking game, right? As a writer, all I need is a living wage to be happy to spend all day writing, so why are we giving athletes -- people who basically go to summer camp and the gym for a living -- multimillion dollar contracts? Surely we're not worried they're going to leave the industry and become neurosurgeons. The only thing a football team can lose its star player to is another football team. So we're basically watching billionaires play a private stock market while we pay for the privilege of sweeping the floor.
This is us. This is us.
The crazy thing about this to me is that the reason we (and by "we" I mean "virtually everyone but me and like 20 people I know") like sports, on a psychological level, is because they're a respite from things we have to worry about. When you spend all day hearing about, say, Ebola (Holy shit! Ebola!), it's nice to focus on something silly, like someone throwing a football around. It's nice to get worked up about that, even -- to let some steam off. Who cares? It doesn't matter -- or at least it shouldn't. We're spending so much money on it that it kinda does: It's your money getting sucked down the drain, and you just stare blankly while ...
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 ...
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.
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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.