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How the Worst Values of Sports Are Taking Over America

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/06/26/how-worst-values-sports-are-taking-over-america

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This has been going on for centuries, especially as professionals have become so glorified. Whatever the game, kids are encouraged to get out there and dominate, not just “play” any sport. Girls and women are largely trying to do the same thing, driven by parents looking for a way to retire on their kids’ future potential. While lots of kids may have genuine fun, and really learn to enjoy themselves, the possibility of becoming a “pro”, as a career, likely hovers around 1%. The rest become disillusioned adults, drinking crappy light beer and snacking on chips at home. A lot was made over the U.S. women’s soccer team running up a wildly slanted score; while goals are counted in stats as the World Cup progresses, they may not have actually needed a huge winning margin, but it attracted more eyeballs for the sponsors. Money does change everything.

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“And since integrity is marketed as the soul of golf, how can that sport – and its greatest player – ignore the barefaced dishonesty of the world’s most famous golf club owner on the course?”

Pretty easy when both men have zero integrity.

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If you ain’t cheatin’ you ain’t trying
That has been the all purpose excuse and battle cry from countless coaches for decades of American sport. But then again, just like all of our other forms of entertainment, they reflect the society that they are charged to entertain. Nixon was utterly corrupt, was caught elbow deep in the cookie jar, and walked away scot free. Reagan and his acolytes sold weapons to an enemy, were caught with cookie all over their faces, yet walked away scot free. Neil Bush helped crash the S&L sector, insider trading became SOP on Wall Street, and Bill Clinton was caught lying to a grand jury, all walked away relatively unscathed.
Then the loser of the popular vote became president in 2000. Video games had “cheat codes” that gave players unlimited lives and play time, virtually eliminating losing. All the while our professional and college athletes became super humans with chemical assistance, and cheating on everything from your taxes to to your spouses became a sacrament. The only crime was getting caught.
We are a nation of cheaters that live in a fairytale world of our own making. It certainly explains Donald Trump.

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One irony is that the term professional sports is an oxymoron of sorts, now, isn’t it?

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To me the worst thing about professional sports is their acquiescence to the military industrial complex. The idea that we celebrate or ‘honor’ the troops before a game is quite disturbing. To make this revolting display of militarism more digestible, I always mute that portion of the sporting event on my TV set and substitute it with my own version of what is being said, but with a slightly biased slant to it…
“Ladies and Gentleman, if you will all rise and salute our brave men and women in uniform who have been instrumental in bombing millions of brown people half way around the globe to help corporate America seize valuable natural resources around the world. Staff Sergeant Maria Hernandez is a drone operator in Michichigan who has over 1,100 confirmed kills, including over 300 terrorists at a wedding in the Middle East. And we are also proud to have here today Air Force pilot Lance Brown who has dropped over 500 tons of explosives in over twelve countries in only three torus of duty. On behalf of every fan here and in our basketball organization, we thank you for your sacrifice, but more importantly the dead who were sacrificed to make this country the great imperial power it is today.”
Sports is nothing more than a corporate distraction to keep the public focused on the mundane rather than the urgent issues of the day. While I also have a weakness for a couple of professional sports teams, it pains me to see millions of fans pour out onto the streets to celebrate their teams victory, yet as a society we’re unable to gather more that a few hundred to protest nuclear weapons, mass incarceration or reining in Wall Street abuse. At some point people have to realize that our modern day version of ‘bread and circuses’ is by design and closely related to patriotism and militarism; nothing more than a contemporary replacement for institutionalized religion.

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Thank you for your courage, S_c.
And your description is just part of the way we are so easily propagandized.

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could not agree more. When Tiger went to Trump I was done with him and most sports, I think now, after this article, all sports because none of them is clean and have not been for a very long time. It used to be a way for us to enjoy a refreshing moment but now, we have not a moment to spare for such shenanigans as we stand in solidarity against this foul, corrupt nation of ours and cleanse ourselves of the horrors we have endured for way too long. simply become a way to distract the masses and keep them violent especially with all the horrific militarized language and ads especially at superbowl time and whenever the anthem is played. another glorifying song to violence. ugh

“History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.”

  • Karl Marx
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Other sports memes that have inappropriately pervaded culture and badly corrupted society and governance -
“Win at all costs.”
“Competition produces excellence.”
“Life is just a competition.”
You can’t win if you don’t play the game."
“Life is a game - make sure you win.”
“To the victor go the spoils.”
. . . . . . you can’t make this crazy crap up, but it rules undemocratically.

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Yes!!! Well said and my blood runs cold when I hear sports terms used to describe war and battles, Shock and Awe anyone? Better than 4th of July?

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The title, “How the Worst Values of Sports are Taking Over America,” has it backwards. Despite the inevitable existence of poor sportsmanship perhaps throughout history and across nations, the sporting arena has offered and arguably continues to offer fans something that both entertains, inspires and helps to re-set our compasses which big business and politics continuously, increasingly shove off course. That sports have become increasingly corrupt in America (let’s leave the rest of the world out of it for now) is an inheritance from business and politics, not the other way around. A “sign of the times” if you will. This distinction is not just an exercise in semantics, it’s really important if we hope to be able to attack the problem. Turning sports more and more into businesses, and politicizing sports, is what has happened. Hopefully, the rising numbers of Americans who are voicing their disgust with business & politics “as usual” and who are pushing for radical change will be persistent and successful, and trickle down into other areas of life, like sports. But in fact, that fight will be made easier, I think, if sports fans (thanks Robert Lipsyte) demand an end to the corruption of sports at the same time as they/others do towards business and politics.
Just a couple of things I found surprisingly absent in this piece are the notable push-back FROM athletes themselves in the case of “take a knee” and Colin Kaepernick in the NFL. Although this action was not a protest against the contamination in sports by business and politics, I think it was a wonderful movement that proved that sports figures need not simply bow down to business and political pressure and “just play ball.” I was also surprised that the very fact of the absolutely ridiculous presence that American sports plays in education, especially on the university level, was not targeted as itself being a cancer in America in need of a cure. Sports programs in American universities, and also high schools, should be no bigger and even perhaps smaller (time and money-wise) than any other subject. This doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world. College sporting events being broadcast on national television? No wonder American education is so famously poor outside of a handful of elite universities. It is very, very difficult not to become cynical, not to believe in many of the things that many people do in fact say and write about with regard to the nature of wealth and power in America, specifically that the “elite” do not want the country to have a well-educated populace, that they want Americans to be uneducated, ill-informed, running scared and under pressure, so that the corruption at the hands of the elite can continue to run amok. (To me, this is simply obvious…)

Edmundo, you left out the great quote of Vince Lombardi, “winning isnt everything, it’s the ONLY thing”.

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Another symptom of Uh-meriKKKan’s obsession with sports are the rise of all sports all the time AM stations. If you have a suitable AM receiver and wait until nighttime when stations come in from hundreds of miles away you will hear an unbelievable number of stations who only broadcast sports events and sports trivia, ad nauseam. I’ve listened to AM radio for many years and there has been a huge increase in their numbers. People in this country are addicted to sports and isn’t it just appalling the way that the military has increased its presence in many of these events? Not only do many venues have you and the athletes stand during the National Anthem as some kind of patriotic gesture but there are flybys of military jets and salutes to members of our Armed Forces.
I wish that somebody would explain to me what the hell that has to do with a baseball game? It seems like cheap, pandering nationalism. However, the people can’t get enough of this bullshit. Another aspect of this are the ridiculous salaries paid to athletes and coaches which translates into ridiculous ticket prices just to get in and watch the spectacle.
I love baseball (not pro but AA ball) and I can’t stand football. I recommend that people here go to YouTube and type in “George Carlin baseball and football” in which the great comedian looks at the words used to describe each game and what they mean.

Not with Trumpo the Klown. I am absolutely sick of all his “winning”.

I heard a very appropriate term for our drone “pilots”. They were said to be in the “Chair Force”. There are two good movies about them. One is called “Eye in the Sky” starring Helen Mirren and Aaron Paul. The other is “Good Kill” starring Ethan Hawke.

How can a moral person watch games in which players are damaged and exploited? How has sports, cherished as an innocent sanctuary, become such a “guilty pleasure”?

There are still grammar school parents signing their kids up for football –
and what I see when I look out over our one of our local parks being used for
football practice for boys who seem to be about 8 years old is pretty much the
same equipment that the professionals have. The uniforms, all of the padding –
the machines to practice charging into other players. And still the enthusiasm!

As LOVE took over in the 1960’s, America was sensible enough to be turned off
by boxing and football. The money$$$ interests fought back.

I actually saw both movies and they both come to mind a lot. Drones have become such an easy way for the MIC and its patsies to kill indiscriminately. The fact that our country can so easily label people, organizations and countries as terrorists while American drones sow death and destruction on a daily basis, is a primary reason that our country has lost any semblance of its moral authority.