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.