Last week I wrote to you all about my feelings on escapism and now I want to address one of its oldest forms; sports! We all love sports (except those who don’t) and really, what’s not to love? Sports are the oldest form of reality television; unscripted, raw, passionate and that’s exactly how we like it. At least, that’s the way I like it- the visceral feeling and pure satisfaction of watching the top one percent of athletic talent lavish in their accomplishments gives us all something to aspire to. Don’t we all just wish we could be that talented and satisfied with our own jobs and lives? Of course we do, and maybe this is what leads us to where we’ve ended up recently. The NFL has started banning celebrations and penalizing fun, the MLB has pitchers hitting batters with hundred mile per-hour fast balls for showing any sign of braggadocio and the general populace is ripping on one of America’s most talented athletes, Cam Newton, for “excessive celebration.” I say screw that! Gimme all you got! I go to sports for fun and there is little that’s more enjoyable than reveling in the talent alongside a celebrating athlete.
All that’s left for me is to ask, why? Why would people want to sap the fun out of their fun? Baseball fans cite that it’s just the way it’s always been. Maybe that’s the case, but shouldn’t we let the medium evolve into the finest product it can be? If Jose Bautista wants to flip a bat three hundred feet in the air after he hits a ball a mile out of the stadium, then shouldn’t we let him? I’ve always been a fan of the fact that professional athletics are the greatest meritocracy: meaning that it’s one of very few fields that are less about where you come from and who you know and more about how exceptional you are. So in my mind if you can’t stop Jose from blasting that ball into the sun, maybe you should just accept that bat flip. I get that it hurts but that’s what competition is! You see your failures and overcome them.
As for the complaints of non-participants, the every-man, the explanation there may be a bit more complex. One of the only explanations I can rationalize is that there’s a level of jealousy or resentment toward the glittering celebrity of athletes. Like I stated in the opening paragraph, we all want to love our lives. Now, I’m not somebody who aligns with these Debbie Downers so all I can offer is conjecture, but it seems to me that the populace is starting to turn their favor away from the success and glory that’s coming from being a freak of nature. Public perception is such that a lot of these guys out there making millions to play a game got there largely on the basis of being born tall, strong and athletic. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that’s true, dedication and training play a pretty major role most of the time but I can’t deny that being 6’10” and strong as an ox certainly would help you put a basketball through a hoop. Even if that’s the case though, it still makes very little sense to me. The consumer, the people complaining, are the same ones paying to absorb the content so why wouldn’t you want the most bang for your buck?
So, now that I’ve done the obligatory intellectual breakdown of why people hate fun, I’m gonna go watch some Thursday Night Football and hope that every play ends in a touchdown so I can watch talented professionals lose their damn minds with the overwhelming joy that I wish I could experience every day for the rest of my life. If you’re not with me that’s perfectly okay! You still have golf if you hate bat flips! I hear that Jason Day guy is pretty g-
-Mitchell K. Drummond, contributor and Co-Founder of Heck Media