Taking a break from my usual photographic musings to say this: thank you, people in this country who are incensed over the singing of a patriotic song in languages other than English, for reminding me why I consider the Super Bowl, football in general, and practically all competitive sports to be not only mindless entertainment but also violent, hateful, and mean-spirited. This whole attachment of individual or collective egos to sports teams has baffled me since I was a child – who gives a crap which arbitrary “side” manages to do the appropriate things with balls of various sizes – and I will continue to avoid the whole damn circus, thankyouverymuch.
I realize that only about 10% of the nation that watched that dumb game took to the Internets in an ignorant ripple of racist hatred, but to my mind, it’s an extension of the us-vs-them mentality that provides entertainment to those who enjoy being whipped into a hateful frenzy against some Other way more than they enjoy supporting the home team (not to mention the hate they’ll heap on the home team if they don’t perform up to their standards). Experiencing my father watching football as child was so stressful I came to avoid venturing anywhere near the television on Sundays – and according to him, he actually enjoyed going through that stress week after week, until his team disappointed him for another season.
I, on the other hand, was so non-competitive as a child, it made my parents nervous. Like most kids, the question I asked more than any other as a child was, why? And when asking that question about participating in a competition of any kind – be it athletic, academic, or other – about eight times out of ten the answer was, for no good reason whatsoever. The other two times, I’d suit up and give it a whirl, but that was pretty rare.
I remember it used to bug the hell out of my mother that every morning in elementary school, when the teachers came outside at first bell and held up their hands so we could line up behind them and be escorted into school single-file, I’d stand back until my entire class had gotten in line and then fall in at the end. “Why do you do that every day?” my mother would ask repeatedly, “Do you always have to be dead last in line?” My answer was perfectly logical: we had assigned seats in the classroom. Jostling and pushing my way towards the front of the line served absolutely no purpose. To this day, I’m pleased with this approach to life, and I think I was a smart kid not to bother scrapping and pushing just because societally that’s what I was supposed to do, but I’m sure my poor mother thought I’d end up a speed bump in the slow lane of life, getting run over by even the laziest of drivers.
And yet – I turned out just fine. But back to the football. I’ve been asking myself why about sports fanaticism since high school, when our entire campus was mandated to hate some certain school for being a certain number of miles away and hosting a certain sort of student that at some point in our school’s history it had been determined we didn’t like. I have yet to get an answer other than for no good reason whatsoever (and yes, that includes the Olympics, shocking and horrid as that may be).
I don’t have any conclusion to this beyond re-sharing the following: