Disclaimer: This is part one of a series. The author’s opinions do not necessarily reflect that of this site.
From youth leagues to the major leagues, sports are a massive industry in the United States. Over the years certain sports have gained in popularity while others have declined. One needs to look no further than the NFL for a prime example of how a popular sport can become a political lighting rod with issues like kneeling during the national anthem being in the forefront. In spite of their decline, purists of these sports still claim theirs is “America’s game” or “the best out there.”
As an athletic male that played a variety of sports such as baseball, hockey, soccer, basketball, and others while growing up, I can’t deny that playing sports was always enjoyable regardless of the playing field and uniform. Where I separate my enjoyment for sports is when I have to choose whether to give sport organizations my money and time as a fan. The older I get, the more valuable my time is. If I’m going to part with either money or time, it had better be for something that is going to provide me with an enjoyable experience from which I can get a good return.
In a world where politics and the business of advertising often overshadows the actual game being played, here is why I find myself being more selective about what I watch and pay for — and why I think your favorite sport sucks, even though I still follow it as a fan.
Popular view: A blend of skill and toughness with crunching hits and tackles!
Reality: 30-minutes of action crammed into a three-hour sporting event. How do we spend the rest of that time? By watching commercials or staring at the graphics on the stadium’s big screen. Besides that, many players have hijacked what used to be an escape from reality for fans and have opted to ram their personal political beliefs down our throats. I also feel obligated to point out that the physical aspect of football has taken a hit in recent years (no pun intended). League rule-makers have decided that they know what is best for the grown men who sign up for, and get paid well, to play a dangerous and physical sport — and as a result we have rules that make it a softer, gentler NFL. And Fantasy Football leagues had to be created in order to get fans to care about the other 31 teams that are competing on game day.
Popular view: America’s pastime!
Reality: Baseball was always a very enjoyable sport to play in my youth. But boy, if you think I’m going to make time to watch 162 games in a season you’re wrong! The World Series offers a level of meaning that I can stomach; but aside from the occasional visit to a ballgame in a city near me, I have no interest in watching a sport that offers little action in a 3+ hour sporting event. Yes, I get that there is strategy and skill involved in the game and that these provide brief moments of excitement — sometimes by out of shape guys with dad-bods — but that won’t keep me engaged for the other 161 games in the regular season. I personally enjoyed baseball more when steroids were fueling home run record duels…
Popular view: The world’s game!
Reality: The players are often a bunch of wimps. Yes, it makes me cringe when I see a player drop to the ground in manufactured pain and proceed to roll around as if they had been shot. Fortunately, North America’s MLS is one of the leagues in the world where this is less prevalent. Not absent, but less prevalent. Also, there is no denying that some games are low-scoring and dull, but I do appreciate the continuity of the sport, which takes place in two commercial-free 45-minute halves. By the way, what other sport can be low-scoring and dull? That’s right, (American) football where a touchdown equals six-points and makes it seem like the score is higher than it really is. If you changed the scoring in that sport, it would resemble average soccer game scores. To its credit, at least in American football they get up and walk away from legitimate hits instead of getting stretchered off after getting tripped by a guy half their size.
To be continued…
* All photos via Pixabay