Rise of Athletics Mirrors the Decline of America

Is America really so vapid that how a game is handled has become a near life-and-death struggle?

The way fans in all sports handle losses indicate this may be very much the case. Of course, athletics are a big business, and that may be the problem. These people are playing a game, and we treat it as some perverted gladiatorial contest. Sadly, we have allowed so many to put their hands and wallets into this stew it has become contaminated with greed, avarice and ego. Have we really devolved in the late Roman Empire? Based on how many have spun this whole thing into a sort of political statement, the answer appears to be a resounding “yes.”

Utter and complete madness is what this now is. When you think about it, the rise of athletics really seems to mirror the over decline of America’s conscience. We just aren’t the same nation of enlightened, charitable, innovative thinkers we used to be, and how we view sports may be a looking glass for us to gaze into to see the root cause.

Our national mindset has become so foolish that, rather than discuss real solutions to problems in the way our Framers did over two centuries ago, we compare everything to sports. We talk about “running the ball home” or “hitting the home run” or a “slam dunk.” What does that really mean? Are we that desperate for instant gratification? When politicians talk about how one side doesn’t want to negotiate with another, it really is like listening to two spoiled brats playing a game, changing the rules as they go along and, when the end isn’t what they want, they take their toys and go home. That sounds an awful lot like what our nation has become.

Here’s a novel concept: try demonstrating good sportsmanship for a change.

People win and people lose. Yes, life isn’t fair, but sports should be. If we want athletics to be an escape from life, rather a reflection of it, some of the values we learned as children need to stay absolute. The rules are the rules. Three strikes and you are out. The better team should win, even if the better team isn’t bigger, stronger, or has more money. Players listen to coaches. Boosters should support but don’t attempt to “own” their team. Fans should accept that sometimes upsets happen, and rather than demand a coach lose their job because of one loss or one bad season, ask themselves if it’s really that important. Players should accept that they are playing a game, and fans should accept they are watching a game, and be grateful for the fact they can both do so.

Vince Lombardi once said winning is the “only thing.” Tiger Woods said “second place sucks.” Both are horrible lessons to live by. Sports is not about life, but rather is a tool to teach about life. Sometimes, winning isn’t worth the price one pays to get there – that’s a deadly sin called pride. Second place doesn’t always sucks; in fact, it teaches the valuable lesson of humility. Anyone who wants to hit a big payday with the “whatever it takes” mentality need only look at the trails of destruction left by former athletes who lost it all because they thought it would never end. The Dalai Lama was right – sometimes not getting what you want can be a wonderful stroke of luck.

Sports should be about an escape from life, and maybe that’s why we obsess over it so much, because we just don’t want to remember our own lives. Have we so allowed a culture of a stupidity to invade our national conscience that we have devolved into a land of trash-talking fools with no other way to describe a goal than how to score in a game originally intended for children? If that’s the case, we have truly become a sad nation,

Winning really isn’t everything. It sometimes can really be the worst thing to happen to us. After all, a loss is good for the soul, because it reminds us we are, indeed, merely human. Sportsmanship should be demonstrated on and off the field, and leave the tantrums to the kids, both young and much older, who don’t get to bat first or play quarterback. Better yet, let these children (and adults) get knocked down, or hit by a wild pitch, and see just how fast they want to play a safer game.

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