Friday, July 9, 2010

Sports and the herd mentality

"Why aren't you interested in baseball?" a childhood acquaintance often asked me. It wasn't a question so much as a taunt. "It's the All-American sport," he'd sneer. This particular person was too fat and awkward to play any sport, and his redneck father was disappointed in him as a result, so he tried to transfer his feelings of inadequacy to me. But a disinterest in sports, whether it's baseball, football, or basketball is, as an aunt once observed upon learning of my boredom with such games, "unusual," especially for a man.

I would argue that being of above average intelligence and preferring more creative pursuits to games is unusual. The more intelligent one is, the less need one has for games - all games, including card games like poker, as well as the people who play them. Intelligence also means one has less need for other people and the various games they play in everyday life. I refer to the poseurs who strut or swagger to impress or intimidate others, or dress a certain way or expect you to dress a certain way in order to gain acceptance to some foolish clique.

The herd mentality is at work in society as a whole, but especially in sports, not only among the players, but among the fans who congregate in the arenas, stadiums, and bars - the shrines of idolatry in this culture of sweaty jockstraps, smelly socks, and drunkenness - to worship these pretenders to godhood whose laughable talents (come on, throwing a ball or catching one is as much a "talent" as washing dishes or digging ditches - it's manual labor) are rewarded with the useless trinkets of our money-driven world.

Far from being a "King," LeBron James is a clown, a court jester. The fans who have elevated him to hero status are clowns of another sort: fools who paint their faces and dance to the tune of the corporate puppeteers who are the real kings of this world. They are the powers behind the cheap spectacles and sporting "events" whose mind-numbing effects are as potent as heroin and, in their way, just as deadly. And the audience, their emotions disconnected from their brains, eagerly seek another hit, another fix to satisfy a need for excitement that they don't understand since it's unnatural, something manipulated by outside forces. The satisfaction, when it comes, and the vicarious thrill they experience as they watch, with mouths agape, as their heroes score a point, a touchdown, or a home run is as artificial as the "visions" witnessed on an acid trip. Like TV and other distractions of modern life, sports are a tool to control the masses, to keep us dumb, docile, and poor, especially in spirit.

© 2010 Brian W. Fairbanks