Over a century ago, sports culture had hardly developed to the level of magnitude it is today. There were no professional leagues, stadiums, or superstar athletes. Sports were localized and it didn’t spread much farther than that. Adults would play a lot less of it, of course. Sports and other games were played usually during one’s childhood and youthful years. (1)
So the fact of the matter is, the massive sports culture we see today was artificially created to secure profit and greater political power. Remember that power can be achieved much more easily if people’s attention is over-proportionately focused on entertainment rather than the actual events that take place on a day-to-day basis — the ones that actually shape the world we live in.
In the old days, the closest thing we had to the sports entertainment of today were the Olympic games, but they only happened every few years. Eventually, the idea came to build massive stadiums for regular sports, and such stadiums were built around the world. The intent behind it was to draw “the dull, cowardly and base in thousands to admire, and howl, and bet.” When athletes become high-paid celebrities, they degenerate into “a sort of athletic prostitute, with all the defects, all the vanity, trickery, and self-assertion of the common actor, and with even less intelligence.” — H.G.Wells, A Modern Utopia. Wells also said that, “men of honour (the ‘elite’) don’t waste their lives in such folly.” (2)(3)
The plan picked up great steam with the invention of television and sports broadcasting. The field completely changed, entertainment was at people’s feet, and the love of sports grew to a whole different level. Stadiums had to be rebuilt and modernized after the invention of television to serve the growing numbers of spectators.
The stadiums had to become fancier and the lights had to shine brighter so the spectators could become more comfortable and engaged. It was essentially the newest form of ‘Breads and Circuses.’ The ruling elite in Ancient Rome employed similar tactics. They created a culture where the masses would be too distracted to care about anything important, as the Roman poet Juvenal described it:
“Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.” — Juvenal, Satire X
For those of us that are passionate about sports, it’s important from time to remind ourselves about what truly matters in this world. All of the national teams that compete against each other at the end of the day are all part of the same team.
The illusion of tribal warfare that goes on in sports needs to be treated as such. And if you’re truly and honestly going to do that, then all the energy, angst, passion, and excitement that goes towards your favourite sport could be going towards the real events that take place in the world around you. For a lot of people this isn’t the case, as some of us are more fascinated by the simulation rather than the actual thing.