10/20/2005

A lesson learned

This evening, I learned that the St. Louis Cardinals can lose just as well when I'm not watching as they can when I am watching.

Disgusted as I am by their pathetic postseason performance, I am actually grateful that I no longer have to give them, or baseball in general, any thought until Spring Training next year.

Which leads me to the following thought (you'll like this one, poni): what is the point of professional sports and why do we care so much?

Hundreds of grown men (and sometimes not-so-grown-men) getting paid hundreds of millions of dollars to play games? This is worth our time? Our support? Our money? What drives us to attach ourselves so vehemently to a specific team? What makes it so ingrained in our society? Why is it so damned important? Surely there are other, more worthwhile, less stress-inducing, less expensive, hobbies we can enjoy.

Aren't there?

Is it for the camaraderie? I suppose it's nice to see someone else wearing a hat or shirt adorned with the logo of your favorite team. It makes you feel like you're a member of a special club, that you belong to something greater than yourself...which is a reason people are so into religion, too, isn't it?

But I digress.

I've actually been thinking about this for a while, how truly silly sports are. The amount of money spent on sports, from buying a team, to player salaries, to building a ballpark, from the purchase of jerseys and DirecTV's Sunday Ticket, not to mention all the gambling...just imagine how many billions of dollars we throw at these diversions. Think of all the good that could be accomplished if all that money were used for something productive, if people could actually be altruistic for a change, instead of caring only about themselves.

And this isn't limited merely to the sports world. Is Brad Pitt really worth however many millions he gets to be in a crappy Hollywood movie (or even a more rare not-so-crappy one)? Tom Hanks? Halle Berry (certainly not after Catwoman)? Imagine getting paid twenty million dollars just for being you. That's a two with seven zeroes behind it: $20,000,000.

I'm not saying these people, these athletes and actors aren't talented, that they don't have a particular skill unique unto them, or that that skill isn't worth something. It's just that, you know, when cops and fire fighters and teachers and war veterans, people who contribute to our safety and our future, when they're barely able to get by, how can we, in good conscience, blithly throw away these millions of dollars on people who merely have nice smiles or can throw footballs sixty yards downfield with accuracy?

Escapism is important. I get that. But we're not going to be able to hide our heads in the sand forever. Sooner or later, we're going to have to take a long, hard look at ourselves and decide if watching large men hit little white balls with big pieces of wood is really worth what we're currently paying.

2 comments:

Angelkris said...

We willingly hand these people our money so that we can be removed from our lives for the hour and a half or three hours. We pay them so that we can be entertained without effort.

1031 said...

Is that really a good enough reason, though? Is mindless, effortless entertainment really worth all that money?

Again, I'm not saying that sports and films aren't worth something. I'm just questioning our priorities when we value them higher than other professions.

gpyzp - the sound I would make were I to ever win the lottery