How many times, how many hours, how much brain power, how many dollars have been lost to people way too concerned with amateur sport? We live in the internet age, the world of entertainment is at our fingertips and there are people willing to watch the athletic prowess of a 15 year old to whom they’re not even related. It’s like watching sports back when it was only white people playing.
In the U.S. the Super Bowl just happened. It’s considered the pinnacle of human athleticism as it applies to wrecking the human body in imaginative ways whilst also wearing pads that delude the participants into thinking there is any measure of safety. And much like the discussion of how I would prefer to keep enjoying bad food, it made me wonder how anyone watching the Super Bowl could possibly enjoy amateur sports.
I live in a small town that is invested in high school football (of the North American variety), which is mind boggling to me because watching children’s sports is terrifying and terrible. What’s the appeal of watching teenagers who can’t even drive give each other concussions? Adults who know the risk, I get. Let adults with fully formed brains make the conscious decision to give themselves early onset Parkinson’s by launching their 300 lbs. of muscle head first at another wall of stupid and killing parts of their brain. But seeing children have those decisions made on their behalf is terrifying. Oh, and boring. You’re watching kids learn how to use their growing body. They aren’t at the height of their skills. Their voices crack when they call out plays.
It’s not like ye olden times when we were bereft of entertainment. Kids aren’t playing with a hoop and stick, no one is paying their nickel to see a an overweight person in a freak show, and we shouldn’t be watching teenagers play sports if they aren’t your children (and can we just arrest any creepy adult staring at the high school cheerleaders too long?). I barely understand people’s interest in college sports. Those are still amateurs. Minor League baseball isn’t on television, but the Little League Championships are. Those kids can’t even throw a curve ball (by rule, not by skill).
To me, sport is watching athletes excel through stretching the boundaries of human capabilities in competition. Children’s sports aren’t that. Children are stretching the capabilities of what isn’t even a fully formed human being. So why watch kids when the adult, with all their skills, all their experience and knowledge competing at the highest level, is available 24 hours through the magic of the internet? The adults are great even at their worst. Kids are terrible at sports because they don’t know how to be good yet. They are inadvertently terrible.
Is it to see the unbridled joy of a victorious child? To see the emotionally devastated tears of a child tasting the bitterness of defeat? Is it nostalgia? People reliving their glory days vicariously through those who still have potential where their own was left somewhere drowned in Budweiser decades earlier? Is everything adults enjoy just trapped in the rhythm of Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days!?!”