So, the last couple of days as I have scrolled through my Twitter feed, there have been promoted tweets from ESPN begging me (and people like me) to plunk down $4.99/mo to watch exclusive baseball games/soccer games/shows from former athletes.
Rewind several years ago and this would have been the sort of bait that would have hooked me… “You mean there is sports content I am not getting!!! NO!!!” I watched a ton of NBA games, played Fantasy Football, watched golf tournaments, major horse races, the occasional baseball game, MLS Soccer, and on and on. I watched Sportscenter nearly every day, listened to Mike and Mike nearly every morning on the way to the office, live tweeted games… in short, I was a sports fan.
But now, “nah, I’ll pass…”
In fact, over the weekend two MAJOR sporting milestones happened: the Golden State Warriors won their third NBA title in four years – basketball dynasty for the ages was cemented, and another Triple Crown winner was etched into the annals of horse racing history. But I didn’t have a clue either of those things was going on, nor did I care. I found out a couple of days after all of it had happened… My wife actually told me about the Finals.
I have all but entirely stopped watching sports… (with the exception of my beloved Alabama Crimson Tide football team).
Last summer, my family and I cut the cable cord, and one of the things we really considered was how was I going to watch live sports and keep up with things, but it hasn’t been a big deal at all. In fact, I may once a week watch 10 mins of highlights through our HULU Live account, and I almost always find myself getting bored rather quickly. I just don’t care anymore.
Why? What changed?
I have thought about this for a while, and there are a number of people like me out there… Consuming sports was once a big part of my life and now, not so much.
For me, I have narrowed it down to a few of things. 1) Athletes and social media. When social media first came on the scene it was a cool way to see into the lives of athletes and former sports icons. We could see where they ate, what the did when they weren’t training, see their homes, their families, their cars, vacations. It was a deeper insight which we all thought we wanted. But for me all this access has highlighted something that I have known all along… these people are WAY overpaid. The huge homes, the garages full of expensive cars, the diamond rings, it’s online all the time. I mean, I know Michael Jordan made a bonkers amount of money, but in the 80s and 90s it wasn’t on display, in my face everyday. Most of my exposure to Jordan was as he played, and as great as he was, on the court he was still just a player wearing the same uniform as everyone else. Now, we see the wealth far more than we see the performance, and it’s turned me off.
2) The corruption. Because sports news is as pervasive as all other news, we get the blow-by-blow of every corrupt thing that happens with professional athletes. Whether it’s the horrible and all-too-common stories about domestic violence, or the cheating allegations, or the problems with concussions, or gambling – it’s just a lot that has nothing to do with sports. Now, I’m not saying those things should be covered up or not reported… on the contrary, all that reporting showed me that professional sports isn’t worth my time. I was a naive sports fan believing that athletes, as overpaid as they were, helped us tap into something noble about all human beings and their abilities. Their performance in the field of play was inspiring because it was, in a way, transcendent. But that is not true… they are broken and messed up people too who are very good at their jobs – but their nobility is no greater (and an argument could be made that is actually less) than any other person. Sports had always been a way for me to be momentarily lifted from the ordinary brokenness that I see every day; now it only serves as a deeper reminder.
3) Finally, the politics. This is actually the least compelling reason for me to put sports away, though for others it is number 1 with a bullet, but the hirings and firings, rule changes, the overall attention given to political agendas puts me off. Should people of notoriety and popularity use their influence for the sake of causes outside themselves? Yes. But given my first two points, I have come to the conclusion their influence really isn’t well-deserved… the same is true for many of our politicians, but that is an entirely different post.
I kinda mourn the loss of sports in my life, yet it has been necessary. I miss the times I would get passionate about a random sporting event. I will miss dissecting the stats and the discussions about the GOATS… then again, not really.
I will still cheer for my Crimson Tide – though I know there are probably a plethora of faults I could find there – because it reminds me of what’s good about my home state. I will watch some of the upcoming World Cup matches – knowing the corruption in FIFA is still very prevalent and even though somehow neither Italy nor the US qualified – because it is an event that brings large parts of the world together… but that’s about it.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8