With March Madness in full swing and down to the Elite Eight it’s a good time to write about another guilty pleasure: Sports!
Sports at the highest level can be very entertaining, intriguing and interesting. I like sports played hard and fair. Sport at its very best showcases the very best in skill, talent, temperament, team spirit (if it’s a team sport) and the desire to excel. In addition it can teach life lessons about hard work, discipline, team spirit/working towards common goal, overcoming adversities, perseverance, persistence, giving one’s best effort and accepting the end result at the end of a fair contest. Sport can bring together fans from different walks of life in a way few human endeavors can.
Back in the mid to late 1990s when I first came to the USA I started following professional sports. It started with watching NBA basketball. The reason was simple. The goal is to score baskets! Not hard to follow even for a newbie. When I initially watched NFL football my first thought was “What’s the point about big, strong guys banging their heads and hurting themselves for what is in essence a trivial pursuit?” After I learned a bit about the rules watching the games on TV I have now become a convert and enjoy football games and appreciate the skills involved in playing the game. I could watch entire games earlier even during the regular season. Nowadays I rarely watch full games. Now it’s more about fitting the game between snacking sessions and doing other chores. Watching games without snacking is a no go Me being a Wisconsinite the Milwaukee Bucks are my favorite basketball team and the Green Bay Packers in football. I also like the fact that the Packers are unique in that the team is owned by the town of Green Bay and it’s one of the most well known professional sports franchises in possibly the smallest town!
What do I feel guilty about watching sports?
1) Making it to the highest level in professional sports is very tough. To play well enough to make a full career out of it is even tougher. To achieve the pinnacle of success and to be able to sustain high level of play for a long time is the toughest. The career span of a sportsperson is short and in contact sports the risk of a career ending injury is just too high. While I enjoy a well executed offense or a well played defense it’s always difficult to watch a sportsperson limping off the field or being carted away due to an injury during play.
2) With the “winner take all” culture that is there it’s sad to see some sportspersons try to gain an edge by any means, fair or foul. Could be by taking banned substances or with dirty play or simply by needling opponents into making a stupid mistake and getting penalized for that. The superstars of course push the envelope secure in the knowledge the refs would give them more leeway as they bring is more fans to the games
3) Corporate culture has pervaded sports too in that the squeaky wheel always gets the grease. Good players who play with whatever cards they are dealt with and not making a noise are not surrounded by a good supporting cast to improve the chance of winning. If they make a noise and threaten to leave more effort and much more money is spent to keep them in the team. Just like an employee in an organization threatening to leave and then getting a big raise (for fear they may jump ship to work for a competitor). The cost gets passed on to the paying fans, the advertisers and the team sponsors whereas the cost would be less if valid concerns are addressed before they turn into full blown threats to leave. In some ways everyone supporting a team/sportsperson has some responsibility for this as chase for sporting glory justifies any associated cost. Such is life, such is business, such is sports.