Sports. A common escape from the daily drudgery that is the grueling grind of capitalism for many, but is housed in a pit of jingoism and toxic masculinity that no-one can escape.
It is becoming extremely difficult to enjoy watching sporting events while being socially aware of your surroundings. You lose your escape whether in person or at home when a leftist sports fan.
The nation has become aware of the forced nationalism within sports thanks to players across many avenues of sports, have began kneeling during the National Anthem. Most notably Colin Kaepernick of the NFL, essentially being blackballed out of the league for protesting. But the backlash from fans is pure unadulterated jingoism. How can you have freedom of speech but yet demand everyone to stand to a song supposedly about their freedom?
When you have a now white President who ran on the motto of making America great again, thus meaning it’s not great, at the moment chastising a black football player who is saying the police brutality, especially of what people of color face in America isn’t making us great at the moment, then you tend to have to question why one is acceptable and the the other isn’t without being able to escape the racial reasoning. The league is mostly black and is being told to stifle about the issues they face socially but white fans and team owners.
The racist team names. Every sport, both on the collegiate and professional level have problematic team names and/or mascot. From the Seminoles of Florida St to The Redskins of the NFL, who of which were the last team to desegregate their squad, all claim to honor native Americans whilist mocking them with half hearted appropriated tomahawk chops and drunkingly smeared on “war paint” and uncoordinated chants. Or worse. A poorly drawn caricature slapped onto every piece of merchandise, proving racism has a market in capitalism.
The domestic violence and sexual assault aspect makes it uncomfortable for any woman to enjoy sports at any level. We aren’t discussing non violent crimes or performance enhancing drugs. Nobody should care about weed and ‘roids. It becomes an issue where you see yourself cheering for a woman beater over a rapist, or someone who commited manslaughter vs dog killing ring. It proves there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism when you have horrific crimes against humans and animals being ignored based on talent and capital growth potential. Basically if they sell tickets via name or skill on the field, they’re worth the fact they’re horrible people off the field.
You find yourself defending millionaires im economic disputes with billionaires while you’re lucky to make 35K. You do this because you realize that the athletes are workers, the game is their means of production, and that the owners are the wealth stealing bosses we have ourselves but you still have the bad taste in your mouth doing all this while scrapping up change to get gas in your car to go to work in between payweeks. Support the athletes yes, but support the cheerleaders who make less than nothing per game.
I eluded to jingoism based on forced nationalism with the Anthem but what about the most common nationalism there is? Your hometown vs my hometown. You see people being stabbed at San Francisco/Oakland games. You have parents fighting in stands over calls by umpires, hits from other parent’s kids, or mismanagement of their kid by a coach, so when you add the factor of my town I like/live in is better than your town on top of that toxic masculinity, it’s a dangerous receipt. Who wants to see a live game when you might have to fight your way to the parking lot to escape?
Sexism and misogyny is call of sport fanatics, and is installed on every level. Turn on ESPN and see where women’s sports, even the top pro ones, are compared to even bottom tier male sports. Also stay away from the comment sections of all articles unless you don’t mind random misogynistic slurs thrown your way for saying you think that was a good/bad call/move/ETC as if all sports fans cannot go more than one sentence without being an oppressive tool.
The head injuries. Seeing human beings tear and/or stumble based on a massive hit has become the norm on Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays through three levels of football. From children playing for fun, to a young teenager looking to nab a scholarship to escape economic strife due to structural violence, to the college kid looking to either go pro or play one last time in a team sport, to the professional making millions for their owner, cannot escape the sheer impact their bodies face. Seeing our fellow people face such violent hits, while understanding traumatic brain injuries better, is yet another reason to cringe every time you watch football. Hockey, lacrosse, soccer, and racing also are prone to these types of injuries. Baseball and basketball as well. There’s no escaping the possibility of damaging yourself or others, based on supporting something once thought of as a child’s game.
It’s disappointing as someone who grew up playing every sport you can think of, including made up ones. I enjoy the activity, the game itself, and when playing I enjoy the connection with teammates as well as the friendly competition with others as life is hard enough without the thing you enjoy being problematic.
It’s difficult to separate the wonders of playing and enjoying a game with the problems of life in the U.S. and worldwide, when those problems never leave those playing and watching.