A Case for Entertainment (and by extension sports)

Submitted by Brady Elliott on January 2nd, 2018 at 1:04 PM

I’d like to make a case for entertainment and by extension watching sports.

To be clear and honest, I’m coming at this post with likely a distinct worldview that differs than Brian. As such I carry presuppositions as all of us have. The intent is not to have a religious discussion but to frame the perspective and discussion. Brian’s phrase of, “Maybe it'll be better next year. Maybe it won't. Either way it's a meaningless distraction on the way to the grave” prompted this. I also want to say that all of my statements aren’t extrapolated in its entirety from Brian’s post. It merely served as a spring board for my own further thought.

The phrase is pretty nihilistic and I don’t think Brian would disagree with that interpretation. Maybe he would disagree but having read this blog faithfully for years; Brian seems to have an agnostic worldview which shows itself at times in some pretty nihilistic thoughts. Today is a prime example. Without the context of reading almost all of Brian’s writings for the last 5-7 years I wouldn’t be as bold in that interpretation. If the site search worked any better on this site, I would have been able to supply more examples. Anyways, this isn’t about proving Brian’s nihilism or agnosticism or the validity of that train of thought but the particular line from Brian’s post led to the below.

Have at it…it’s a long post. Neg away if you would like…it doesn’t matter to me, because after all, it’s all just a meaningless distraction.

As fans, I admit that cheering for a team certainly is a distraction from things much more important in our lives practically. All too often, we neglect our children or family and friends because we are infatuated with a bunch of people moving about on a hockey rink,  a court, or a field of grass.  Sometimes though, those distractions can be a very good thing. It can be a temporary escape from tough circumstances. It can be a time of rest from real struggles or stress.

It can be used as motivation to go and conquer the unknown or a real-life challenge in front of us. Although the mantra may feel stale and disingenuous right now but the phrase of “attack the day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind” has inspired me. Jack Harbaugh instilled that in his sons as they went to school every day, and if he hadn’t instilled that and if I wasn’t a fan of this team, I would have missed that little bit of life improvement. That’s one example of personal motivation and improvement as a result of being a sports fan.

It also reminds us that sometimes, when people work together, there is a very real synergy in a team. Things can be overcome that you never thought possible. The Miracle on Ice…the Cubs and Red Sox breaking the curse, the early 2000’s Pistons teams, and many more come to mind.

It also reminds us of our place in life and provides some humility. Investing (declaring worth) in things that are bigger than us and outside of our control comes very natural to us as humans. If you look around at the world and at your personal life, you’ll find that it is very natural to invest in these sorts of things. We do it every moment of our lives. Sports are part of that. When your team loses, and loses badly and repeatedly, it makes you take a step back and reassess what is important and what is not on the relative scale of our life circumstances. That assessment wouldn’t be possible if you weren’t invested in SOMETHING in SOMEWAY. In some ways, that is necessary across all of life and not just with sports. We are constantly investing in things that either ultimately DO NOT MATTER IN ANY WAY (nihilism) or on the other hand possess value. We must invest and play in this thing called life, and entertainment and amusement is part of that. We can’t throw up our hands when things don’t go right in a form of escapism and say it is all meaningless and then go to work on Monday because you’ve got to pay the bills and feed your family. We intuitively know there is value to working and providing for your loved ones. If there is value in that, then there must be value in other related things as well. We all must play this game and there is validity to it, whether it’s being a parent, providing for the ones you love, or watching your favorite football team. I’ll stop there because going any further would likely violate the “no religion” rule.

It also reminds us of when we played the game and competed. Not to get all Uncle Rico on everyone but if watching your favorite team warm up, run out on the field, play the game, and hear the crowd doesn’t occasionally take you back and get goose bumps…then I feel sorry for you. I go back to Friday nights, and hearing your and your team’s cleats on the asphalt crossing the track to the field for warm ups, and being introduced, and making plays, and coming from behind for the win, and etc.. At the very least thinking back at past competition is exciting and at times motivating enough to go for a run or attack a project, etc and that you can overcome present challenges because you did so in the past.

It also reminds us of beauty. Teamwork is a beautiful thing. Certain plays or achievements are a beautiful thing. It transcends time and moments. Humans are infatuated with the transcendent. From my perspective, beauty isn’t the end, but it is a means to an end. I’ll stop there because going any further would likely again violate rules.

If we all took Brian’s apparent current attitude towards the Michigan football team and applied them consistently to our lives, this blog with no longer exist. In the end, you can invest in things with the knowledge that the thing you are investing in might not work out or go as planned. When it doesn’t work out as desired, you learn lessons and reassess. It’s a risk and it’s called life and we can’t escape it. We can’t say “Whatever.” We certainly ought to always reflect on our investments, but we must invest. Amusement and entertainment (and by extension sports) are part of life. A life that has value.



January 2nd, 2018 at 1:11 PM ^

Roses are red, violets are blue, nobody gives a shit about you.  Come on down to Arby's, shoot some black tar, cry for your dead dreams, die in your car.

Enjoy Arby's.


January 2nd, 2018 at 1:23 PM ^

Yup, the classic TLDR

Summary: you encourage us not to be nihilistic. 

Response: if enduring pain of watching the catastrophic tragedy of those for whom you root is entertainment, that would be masochism.

Nihilist or masochist? hmmmm.... that discussion could be entertaining, but I'll pass.

How about we talk football like:

"We were missing three starters from an O-Line that took all year to start doing a few things right, so it's not surprising that we turned in an Airforce/Cincinatti type performance, and probably explains the whole team conducitng itself with a hesitant timidity, or at times brash attempting to force the issue, both of which resulted in turnovers and devastating miscues."


January 2nd, 2018 at 1:24 PM ^

Growing up in the 70s and going to UM in the 80's, the heartbreaking or ugly losses really got in the way of my mood, sometimes for days.

73/74 to OSU

numerous RB losses

the blocked punt palooza in 79 (many punts blocked that year)

Harry F-ing Oliver in 80 

loss at unranked UW on my 1st weekend in South Quad in '81

6 loss team in 84

D Browns 7-int thriller at MSU in 87

and so on

I think Toomer showed the right amount of love and frustration with UM FB this year. Expectations should be high with JH here - and my mood wouldn't be different even if we had won yesterday. If we do turn it around have finally beat MSU and OSU in the same season for the first time since '03 - then those who have posted here over the years did "stay" for UM football.


January 2nd, 2018 at 4:03 PM ^

I'm in no place to tell you whether your opinion is wrong. Much of it I agree with. But you should roundly reject Toomer as a surrogate for that opinion. That guy is a cancer who readily acknowledges that he has no surviving Michigan connections with any past teammates and coaches. That's a massive (albeit circumstantial) indictment of his personality and the strength of his ties to Michigan.

It's unlikely that Toomer has been railing against Michigan out of a sincere desire to see Harbaugh succeed. Toomer has railed against every coach since the early 2000s. He's sensitive, wounded, and self-interested mixed with a self-crafted identity of being excommunicated from the program. Moreso than wanting good things for Michigan, Toomer has *always* appeared as a guy who wants to see Michigan burn and is eager to participate in the negative-PR firestorm.


January 2nd, 2018 at 1:28 PM ^

traveled to games at MSU in 81, 83 (42-0), 85 (31-0), at Iowa in '05 in OT

also the bowl win vs. Ole Miss (p.s. that was the time when the Rebels section was filled with Confederate flags and the "Yankee" team won) 

Also TV road wins at ND in 06, at PSU and UW back to back in 97, etc.

Nothing cheers me up more than a critical road win in a hostile environment. That's why I'm not bummed with at ND at MSU and at OSU next year - we can make it a great day with a few wins there


January 2nd, 2018 at 2:17 PM ^

You guys want a post from Brian because you want something to shake your first at.  You're all angry and still processing.  He's not playing that game, I don't blame him. 

Yesterday we lost the game, all the twitter wars, all offseason arguments with your Sparty and OSU friends, and a good bit of hope for 2018.  That's it.  There's a lot to fix on this team.  They have to get to it.  We'll see in a long while whether it works or not.  Little else to say. 

The disappointment is a good opportunity to be a better fan.  By not obsessing so much.  Unplug, get to some other interests that better lives, and plug back in later.  This time not so completely.  What does that mean?  Does it really matter if you can rub your brother-in-law's face in it?  2016 was fun, 3-9 was a blast.  We were dicks and it was grand.  We waited for this year to wave our dicks in more faces, particularly OSU.  Maybe we put away the dicks, for good.  Maybe remember this disappointment and focus on the positive of our team when they rebound, rather than the misery it may cause others'.  And yes they will rebound. 

Or wait to someday rub it in.  But it's a wait from here and there's little else to say. 


January 2nd, 2018 at 1:35 PM ^

I mean, essentially Brian is right here - I look at everything we said from about 4 PM yesterday to the present, then I look outside my living room window, and the sun came up and my kids are still complaining that the Internet isn't fast enough and for some reason, Laff Channel is now on its third day of "Empty Nest" reruns. 

I mean, what IS there to say that we haven't said in the last 20 hours? We exhausted every single 2017 trope for good basically, and all we have left is 2018 now and a lot of questions which we hope to see answered. I don't see the post as nihilistic - we're all passionate and most of us won't remember many of the details of what we said in this moment when we kick off versus ND on September 1st. We'll all be there, or most of us, I would think. 



January 2nd, 2018 at 2:17 PM ^

Most of this stuff was said even before the loss to MSU too. Fans knew we wouldn't win the conference this season, and when what they saw on the field confirmed that, they were still disappointed. 

This season was not fun, and almost completely forgettable. Which sucks, because it was Mo Hursts best and last in the maize and blue. But in 5 years, people won't say, god that 2017 season sucked. Because while it sorta did, we have a lot more suck the past 10 years to remember. 


January 2nd, 2018 at 1:42 PM ^

Clemsoning games has been something Michigan had been doing for 20 years. Until Harbaugh can get rid of the curse just expect it and move on.


January 2nd, 2018 at 2:23 PM ^

Sorry dude.. but I did toss off 1650 miles running last year.. (yeah me waves tiny flag). So instead of focusing on the past, I'll focus on the future. I loved Brian's post because whatever. We can write a 10,000 word opus on what's going on with Michigan football and most of it will be conjecture since our name isn't Harbaugh or Drevno. They know what's going on, they just don't talk much, so whatever. We get answers from the coach that are basically meaningless platitudes; so whatever. Don't get me wrong he doesn't owe most of us anything, but in the reverse he shouldn't expect much back, so whatever. It's football, yesterday was a tire fire, as was most of the last season. It will either be better next year or not. there's not a damn thing we can do about it. 

So forgive me if I choose to focus on things not football, that are important on the way to the grave. This team often either couldn't or didn't seem to give two hoots about quality, and I'm not going to waste more time on it than I have. 



January 2nd, 2018 at 2:28 PM ^

My unprofessional advice is to go to Outback, eat a free Bloomin' Onion, and give a sarcastic thanks to our 2nd half meltdown.  It will be good for the soul, if not the arteries.


January 2nd, 2018 at 3:34 PM ^

I watch almost no live sports beyond Michigan athletics these days, and there's plenty of UM sports I don't watch even at that. Most of it just doesn't hold my interest enough to spend hours watching it.