I wrote extensively on the folly of sports — youth, amateur, and professional — in my book A Mild Case of Dead. In the book I pointed out the destructive nature of competition to our humanity, but I also left much unsaid. This is one of the notes that didn’t find its way into the book, but needs saying nonetheless.
Does anyone watch football alone?
Not that there aren’t circumstances that sometimes make watching football — or any popular sporting event — alone a fan’s only choice, so perhaps the better question is: does anyone prefer to watch football alone, or even as much as they like doing other things alone. A similar question, and one that would likely result in the same answer, is: would you sit alone in the stands for a sporting event?
The answer reveals something about competitive sports that no one wants to be the first to say. It’s no secret that humans like to join with other people around a common theme or purpose. Especially when it includes having an enemy that helps justify support for the “team”. These notions give our socializing some justifiable purpose.
The alternative is to simply admit that we like to be around other people; even those that we hardly know. Having a common cause helps to negate any potential differences between people we hardly know. Logic cannot and will not condone or support any purely human pursuit such as a desire to socialize with others.
Sports is evidence of our discomfort with being social purely for the joy of being around people. Just having a desire to be social occurs to us as unnecessarily needy and vulnerable, and otherwise unjustifiable to our sense of logic.
Sports are nothing more than one of the many logical justifications for being social. Which means everything happening on the field is actually a meaningless distraction from our discomfort with being social creatures. But, why do we need that logical justification for being social?
Sports are, in fact, a metaphor for the conflict happening inside the mind of most humans.
The conflict is between our logical view of the world that refuses to act without justification, and the pleasantness we derive from being simply human with no justification.
Logic is what is commonly understood and accepted among us, while our humanity is what is uniquely personal to each of us. The standard of logic is correctness as defined by the majority. The standard of humanity is authenticity and the joy that always accompanies it. Logic always has acceptance in the community at large, while humanity has no acceptance because it is of a personal nature.
It is an act of courage to remain unreasonable and unjustifiable except for the pleasure of it. But giving in to logic in this way comes at a price. We instantly dehumanize the notion of socializing and turn it into something justifiable for other reasons. To be fully human is to acknowledge those traits that are uniquely human and unjustifiable for any other reason. Is that not enough?
It seems our answer is no. So, instead, we have football.