Wednesday, January 13, 2010

in which I have a strong opinion

I have always felt out of my comfort zone in sports. That's not to say I never enjoy playing a sport. Sport is fun to play, if you're good at it and have some measure of coordination, and it is good for us in a physical and mental sense, et cetera, et cetera. But I don't think I am the only one who suffered through the P.E. part of the education system, detesting being forced to put on unattractive clothes several times a week and humiliate oneself in front of one's classmates. And I hate the way the teaching of sports goes out of its way to embarrass kids; for example, the "pick your team" method that every non-athletic child has been humiliated by, and the intense shame of being picked last.

So much for my childhood and teenage years, which were permeated with a vague distrust of sports. The last few years I've thought about it more. The last few years I've become even more disgusted with the ideology behind sports, as undeniably great events like the Olympics have sold out, and athletes think competing in what is, essentially, a game is more important than human rights. [I'm thinking of Beijing here, and thinking back to Berlin 1936, or the Springboks' tours of New Zealand during apartheid.] I've also become disgusted with the culture of sport in New Zealand that thinks it's okay to spend twenty-five minutes of the news hour on sports news, and also thinks it's okay to spend roughly twenty of those twenty-five minutes on men's sports. I'm disgusted by the amount of money that is spent on sportspeople and sports equipment, by individuals, businesses and by government.

SPORTS IS ULTIMATELY POINTLESS. On a personal level, exercise is important, and playing a game makes people happy - of course. But there is absolutely no point to it; nothing about it actually serves other people in any way. I heard someone who coaches athletics say to another person the other day, "The problem with these kids is that none of them are passionate about throwing." Yes, well, why would they be? "Throwing" is NOT IMPORTANT. There is no conceivable purpose to it. Sport only gives other people pleasure if they have been brainwashed into thinking that there is something about watching other people run around a field that is intrinsically exciting. They encourage national and local chauvinism and idolisation of brute strength.

I'm not saying sports events should cease. Events like the Olympics are great examples of international cooperation. But it is so easy for their organisers to assume that they CAN somehow be apolitical, as if they get a free pass from having a global conscience, and the amount of money spent on them is a travesty. And I am skeptical that the people who win medals win them by talent and determination alone.

Would it be so very bad if sports stopped being professional, and sportspeople were forced to see themselves as ordinary people with a particular interest that is not more noble and not more worthy of support than others?

1 comment:

Sarakastic said...

I'm passionate about kicking. I fully relate to this post. Mostly because volleyball always hurt my hands.