Sunday, July 26, 2009

Why We Care about Sports-1

My dad loved to yell at the television when the Chiefs played. Come to think of it all my brothers and sisters yell at the TV when their teams play. He'd scream at a great catch or compliment a block. He'd groan when the bad guys scored a touchdown. He'd never cease to tell the coach how stupid it was to go to a prevent defense and then watch the hapless Chiefs lose another game in the last two minutes.

Dad's experience reveals alot about why we care about sports. A friend recently showed me a feminist critique of sports that argued watching sports is a way for men to get vicarious support for their need for domination and to enjoy the subordination of others. Watching dad--I don't believe it's true.

One reason we care about sports is that follwing a team invites us to identify with our local community or keep in touch with our home community. No one who has rooted for the Kansas City Chiefs for twenty years follows them out of lust for domination. For that matter no one who follows the Chicago Cubs or who followed the Boston Red Sox, up until six years ago, followed them for the joys of dominating others. Sox, Cubs, Chiefs and so many other fans follow teams out of loyalty and memory.

Americans move so much and travel so much, that we struggle to have a stable sense of identity that anchors our self and our past and present. One way we do this is through following sports teams, not out of a vicious need for superiority, but to stay connected to our past and be comfortable with our home. Every day I follow the Mariners, but each day I also check the Kansas City Royals. Not because the Royals win, far from it, but to stay connected to my roots and my home and my fellow family members just like my Cubs and Red Sox fans who follow, suffer and enjoy not just the beauty of the sport, but the importance of memory, connection and identity in a chaotic world.

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