Stupor Bowl

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:

football

14 thoughts on “Stupor Bowl

  1. You are the first person (apart from me) that I have ever heard express this. I have always been the exact same way. Our entire lives, from the day we are born, until we die are geared to winning/losing. It is one of the reason I love Waldorf Schools, where learning is emphasized and assigning valences to every single thing is shunned. And still they get their kids into top colleges.

    When I was in a social group at college (something I will post about at some point), I was involuntarily entered into a competition. I hated it so much, I couldn’t sleep at night until I finally dropped out of it (after winning something — which some to this day cannot forgive me for). I absolutely loathe having to excel merely to be first or beat someone else. I think I have posted on this once, but don’t remember now.

    As for the Stupor Bowl (I LOVE that title, btw). I took my knitting to a SB party where everyone was so lit, they were shouting and screaming to the point I had to leave the room, I was so stressed out. Never again. G. was all worked up (he wanted Seattle to win and he was still fried anyway, what’s up with that?).

    The only team I was ever on that one was a bowling team, of all things, and that is only because everyone else was so good (I was completely indifferent to where the ball went). When we played soccer, I made sure I was out in some remote location so I could just run around and feign participation.

    TG someone else feels the way I do. 🙂

      • Being in education, there’s always that pressure to go to games too. I am at a point where I don’t mind going to support the kids, but I prefer to avoid the varsity games where the parents go bananas booing the refs and all that crap. The JV sports need some love too, anyway, and there tend to be less fanatics at those games. It is so extremely unpleasant and uncomfortable to me to watch how “fans” behave at these things. I guess the exception to that might be baseball – now that I think of it, I don’t recall going to baseball games and feeling uncomfortable by the fans. I guess it moves too slowly for all of that. But basketball and football – forget it. This whole post, in fact, was much more passionately anti-sports when it first went up, but I softened it a bit because it rather made me sound as hateful as I feel fans can get. But there are things in life I have a deep, very personal hatred towards, it is true – sports fanaticism is one of those things, alcohol is another. People are often shocked when I let my true and utter hatred for the demon rum come out. And I really have to bite my tongue when it comes to sports as well, it’s almost purely raw emotion and is very hard for me to put it into words.

        OH, and Doug could care less about sports, thank god! One of the things I love most about him – I do NOT have to tolerate any sports in this house!

  2. Ah, but you are intuitively “competitive” , in that you compete for perfection in your
    personal endeavors,,,,much to “our” advantage. Don’t ever lose your “edge”.

    • That’s a good obversation, and one I started to muse upon here, but it just got way off track. I do strive for personal satisfaction in my endeavors, and I compete, I guess, against myself in a way. But I don’t compete against others, even if I do involve myself in some sporting activity – I would still do it to try and excel myself rather than defeat someone else. I just don’t get anything out of that at all.

  3. If I can be so presumptuous- this is exactly as I do in my active competitive “sport”.. I measure
    my results against my past performances and couldn’t care less who I might have beaten(and
    I’ve many 1st. place trophies).

  4. My Mum would completely agree with you she has only come to a premier league football game once and she shouted out during a goal less first half that she’d seen more action watching school netball! Although when we scored twice in the second half against the team our friend, who had come with us, supports she was smiling lol.
    I love it though, singing Blue Moon with all the Man City fans, cheering on my team, I even enjoyed the tit for tat at school with all the boys who often supported the red half of Manchester, Manchester United, when we were the underdog team. I’ve been going to home games since I was little and I’ve been lucky not to have seen any violence. When we lost the FA cup to Wigan a nearby bottom of the league team my Dad said there was lots of congratulations to their supporters on the train back up North.
    It’s one of my ambitions to sing Blue Moon on the pitch when I’ve finished my training 😉

    • I didn’t mind baseball games so much when I was younger; it’s a slower sport and people get less rabid about it. Football in America is just the worst, and in the South it’s even worse than that! It seems that in the past 20 years or so, though, it’s gotten even more nasty here, with people booing their own teams when they don’t do well and stuff like that. I think it rivals the political and social nastiness that exists here ever since Fox News came into existence.

      You also have always engaged in competitive sports that are more one-on-one, like the tae kwon do you have studied. I have more admiration for the personal stuff than the team sports, even though I myself am not competitive against others, I could still see wanting to excel personally and do your best.

      • I’d love to watch a baseball game and I’d love to take you to a football match in Manchester 😉 with a lovely meal so you could experience another side to it. Being competitive is great but it has it’s downsides and isolation issues too.

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