Saturday, November 10, 2007

Why I hate sports, an analysis.

First off, I was going to write an article about how a close friend of mine was randomly assaulted for no real reason (other than her manner of dress) a few nights ago, but I've cooled off the idea. I could have turned it around to something political or philosophical, but really, there's nothing to say. This society we live in seems to function very well as a machine for turning people into sacks of violent, useless shit and unleashing them on the rest of us, who are after all little better. My friend lives and is in good health. She has managed to find somewhere to live away from the danger of a repeat incident. All is not right with the world, but it's better than it could be.

So, instead I am going to blog on a topic that has been discussed a bit recently on a forum I am a member of. Namely, sports, and why I detest them. But I think for my blog, I shall delve a little deeper into things than I normally do. What I normally offer is a simple enumeration of the reason why I think proffessional sports are a phenomenal waste of time, money and human intellect. I will probably spend most of my time noting things like how the average proffessional footballer earns as much money as six heart surgeons put together, which I still refuse to see how anyone can justify in any way, and maybe then if I'm feeling nasty I'll put in a little reminder about how many small, pathetic-eyed African children are starving to death right at this very moment.

This is all, I hope, old hat. What I feel I should delve into here is why I, personally, hate sports. And make no mistake about it, I HATE sports. The repeated mention of them causes my vision to mist red. I recover my senses ten hours later in a house I've never seen before. There is blood on the walls and a CD player is skipping the track on a childrens party song. A balloon pops in my hand. You get the picture. Well, it's true that I do not understand sports, or at least I do not understand appeal, and I detest the amount of media coverage it gets, such that I find it hard to escape even with my rareified media-consumption habits (which are, by the way, roughly the same as a gay, middle-aged english teacher: Radio 4 and the Guardian, Discovery Channel and Dave for spice). But the same is true for the stock market and organised religon, and I don't...okay, bad examples, but all that's not really the root cause of why I hate sports, though the utter lack of understanding has something to do with it. Oh, and my lack of comprehension of sports is so vast and mute and unfeeling. For me, trying to understand the appeal of competetive sports is like trying to comprehend the form of Yog-Sothoth. This I think though, merely acts as an exacerbator of the rage. It also explains my lack of tolerance, or my inability to just joke it away most or all of the time: I do not enjoy knitting or hip-hop, but I am at least capable, on a number of levels, of understanding what appeal they might have to the devotee. Sports? I don't get it. And this makes arguments with Sports fans worse, because pretty much the first thing they're likely to do is compare sports to music or even (I have had this happen) art or literature. Such an argument punts me securely away from the shores of sanity and into a gesticulating, foaming, bug-eyed rage. I simply cannot comprehend how anyone on earth could be so utterly moronic as to be able to draw a comparison between art and sports. For me this is something like drawing serious comparisons between Ghandi and Stalin (which is an argument I've also seen, believe it or not). It just doesn't compute. There are critical exception errors. Continue the line of reasoning and I'll probably start singing Daisy, Daisy as I slowly expire. This is, by the way, self-analysis and self-criticism, in case you were wondering. What I want to know, in fact, what I do know but don't say, is why I hate sports to this degree.

It is because my hatred of sports is, as all true hatreds must be, utterly and completely personal and largely irrational at its core, only fortified later with sturdy, reasoned arguments. My loathing of sports rises mainly, I guess, from alienation. I never grew up with sports. Neither of my parents, nor any of the other members of the extended family set-up in which I spent my early years care a good goddamn about sports. I get the feeling that there is definitely something of nurture versus nature in the liking of competitive sports. When I think how successfully my father has impressed some of his various interests into me (sailing, real ale, fantasy and sci-fi literature) it seems fairly clear to me that, were he a football supporter, so too would I be. In fact, it seems doubtful to me that something as vital as the passion for sports seems to be in many people can be easily acquired past the ages of childhood. I'm also going to guess that this masculine bonding thing is why so many more men than women are devoted sports fans (not that I missed out on bonding experiences with my father, we just bonded over Tolkien rather than Tottenham). But anyway, I never grew up with sports. Up until the age of five, or whatever, I very much doubt I had any clear idea what football was. It was in school, of course, that the problem started. Now, my distaste for sports does not (surprisingly) relate into a distaste for physical exercise. I enjoy walking, cycling, sailing and, hell, even just working out sometimes. And I was far fitter than I am at the moment at certain times during my school years, such as what seems to me like the year (I'm sure it was about half a summer holiday) when my parents completely abandoned the use of a car in favour of bicycles. I was also, fair enough, a lot fatter and pathetic in certain other school-years. The thing was, that because I never watched sports (we're basically just talking about football here) and didn't care about it I had no desire to perform well at it at school. No role models to follow, as it were. So, I was awful at football. Awful. I didn't even know the rules first time I played it. And believe me, this ineptitude for football did indeed feed into wider social exclusion. You can kind of see whats coming, it's sort of a feedback loop. Infinitely worse than not being able to play football, however, was not being able to TALK about football. Seriously, I only know when there's a world cup on because of the little flags on peoples cars. I don't even know if I have a local football team where I live at the moment. Part of the reason it's great to be at art college is not having to face up to the social exclusion this causes quite so fucking much. I mean, it's utterly alienating. Everyone's talking about this thing. They all seem to know a lot about it, and they care about it, and it interests them, and you just...don't get it. Oh, and you try. You really try. I've tried talking to sports fans, watching games, everything, I just can't get it. The way to know if you're a good friend of mine, actually, is if I will feign interest in a conversation about sports with you. This conversation will normally consist of you telling me everything you know about sports, with me, if I'm lucky, asking some vague query about something I heard on the radio this morning, or some other vague question to keep you talking ("So, Rugby League and Rugby Union, what is the difference, eh?"). I've even tried, on a number of occasions, just trying to blunder through a sports conversation, mainly by nodding or shaking my head at what seem to be appropriate moments. It doesn't work. They can probably smell me.

Anyway, so, we pretty much have the source of my hatred of sports there. Alienation. This is why, as some people suggest when I go off on rants about sports, I can't just 'ignore' sports. I do try to, in so much as it is possible, when they are on the front page of every newspaper. But the thing is, it is my actual ignorance of and non-comprehension of sports that is the root of my hatred of them! Ah sweet ironies! And the worst rants, of course, are when people start talking about sports on the internet. Why do you think I came on the goddamn internet in the first place? I came here to talk about Eastern European folk metal and whether Alucard could beat Vampire Hunter D in a fight (yes he could). Talking about sport on the internet is like an invasion of sanctity or something. This is, of course, a bad thing in me. It is a hackles raising issue, and I need to be better about it. More graceful. But I just can't. I finally, finally have the opportunity to tell all sports fans everywhere that they're drooling neanderthal idiots who are wasting their worthless lives watching other men of no value or worth whose memory history will erase like dust in the wind KICK AROUND A FUCKING LEATHER BALL. YOU ARE ENGAGED IN THE MOST POINTLESS THING MAN COULD EVER IMAGINE, AND I'VE BEEN TO ANIME CONVENTIONS. OH SWEET CUNTING CHRIST!

Okay, that was worryingly satisfying. Lets end this. I don't really know if I got anywhere, but I do still have one question.

Is Vampire Hunter D affected by silver bullets?


Bryan said...

What I dont get is how society picked Sports and Cheerleading as prized goals and awesome worthy. While math and language arts as nerdy activities. I mean, sports are fun and all, but why worship a game. Why watch other people having fun? Why have a whole channel on one game. WHY PAY PEOPLE TO WATCH THEM HAVE FUN!?
society is stupid.

tj said...

correction, channels.

D said...

There are, in fact, channels dedicated to certain teams. Spectating is for boring people.

Anonymous said...

I was surfing the internet, and typed "I hate sports" into the search engine.. and found your post on that subject. I agree with you 100%!! I find it extremely frustrating when I try to convey my criticism of sports to others, and get a reaction from them to the effect that I'm being intolerant, or that if I just try to watch some sports, I would get to like it. These arguments completely miss the point. Its not about whether I like something or not, but whether its value is equal to the adulation people place on it. I once heard a religious writer describe society's adulation for sports as being equivalent to idolatry: treating as worthy of worship something which is not. The example you gave of sports stars being paid so much more than life saving surgeons is exactly on point.

In any cvase, dont give up your convictions on this because of the unwilingness of people to understand. You are absolutely right.