Friday, June 24, 2011

Unhealthy play

I’m not a sports fan. Never have been. Frankly, they’re boring. I might watch some figure skating or gymnastics (or hot boys swimming in the Olympics!), but I far rather see a play or a movie or a concert. I could be cute and say that this is, of course, because I’m gay, or I could be profound and say that watching sports is silly when there is so much more important stuff going on. But the simple truth is that I just find sports boring.

At least until now. I think I have another reason for not liking sports. There’s something sick about sports and the way people like them.

Last week, after the Canucks lost the deciding Game 7 of the Stanley Cup hockey finals, there was a riot, causing much damage in the handsome city center of Vancouver, Canada. It is a bit like this happening in San Francisco (from what little I remember of a summer spent in the Vancouver area when I was a child, the city is quite elegant and sophisticated, not to mention remarkably green and lush).

It is really tragic that this destruction came out of a game and that, as an article in the Los Angeles Times pointed out, this isn’t unusual. What was unusual, as also noted in the article and bizarrely so, I think, was that this riot came after a hometown team lost. It was just a year ago when, as I noted in a post here, downturn Los Angeles was smashed up after the L.A Lakers won the basketball finals, which, weirdly enough, is far more typical.

Why riot when your team wins? Another fact that the Times article brought up is that, in these sports riots, the fans aren’t the ones throwing the bottles and lighting the fires. The actual rioting is usually done by anarchists and other rabble-rousers, along with those revved up after drinking, taking advantage of there being a large, boisterous crowd in which there is anonymity. But I don’t think this lets sports off the hook; these still are unique and still are sports riots.

About a week earlier, the L.A Times sports section had a big pictorial homage, including on much of its front page, to those who have played or competed and were victorious while sick or injured. Among those honored under the headline “Hurts so good” were football players who had played with the flu and runners who ran with sprained joints.

I can understand someone being hailed for saving a life or accomplishing something that improves society while ill or hurt. But for playing - even, yes, winning - a game? Shouldn’t they not be playing if they have a fever or a torn ligament? Shouldn’t they be taking care of themselves or getting care?

Instead, they are seen as heroes. Not only does this put things dangerously out of perspective - after all, kids have died after playing football in the hot sun or getting hit in the head - it reflects our society’s warped, nutty - yes, sick - view of the disabled as people to be pitied or admired or often pitied and admired at the same time.

Hey, it’s only a game.

Or, with it causing riots and such (heat-related deaths, brain injuries, etc.), is it?

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