Recently there has been a growing movement criticizing religion. Some of the criticism is valid. Remember the Crusades? Religion, especially organized religion, does not have a perfect track record. Any human activity which is organized in a way that discourages critical thought and careful examination should be subject to the same scrutiny as religion is. That brings up another issue. What about the mindless worship of organized sports teams?
Can anyone explain why it should be considered to be a great human achievement when one team wins over another team? Usually there are only two teams in competition so everyone knows at the start of the game that either team A or team B will win, unless there is a tie. The sports fan is one of the great mysteries of our time and scientific proof that more evolution of the species would be helpful. How can an otherwise rational human place such importance on a spherical object. In the course of human events does it really matter if the basketball goes over the goal post in the outfield and scores a hole-in-one?
OK, OK. You say that sports help the economy by making some people very wealthy. So does war, and I don’t like that either. You say that sports activities are good for the youth of the nation because they teach competition. Teaching cooperation would be better. The negative aspects of sports are very troubling. The my-team-is-better-than-your-team mentality leads to the idea that I am better than you and my country is better than yours.
The same rational human beings that make the argument that their team is best often criticize others who say that their religion is the best. Why does it matter if someone has a different religious view? If someone believes that God exists in the sycamore tree on the village square, so what. Does it cause any harm? Belief in the importance of the game requires at least as much blind faith as the belief that God exists in that sycamore tree.
In addition to the above it should be noted that religion has often inspired great acts of benevolence and courage. Remember Ghandi, Dorothy Day, Bishop Oscar Romero, the Berrigan Brothers, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and currently the St. Pat’s Four. The Quakers have been active in the anti-war movement and always have ongoing charitable projects. The Buddhists, the Amish, and the Mennonites, to mention just a few, all have teachings about peace and charity.
It could be argued that sports are beneficial in a culture because they provide a source of recreation, joy, and pleasure. Joy and pleasure are important, no question about that. Every moment of every day should be filled with joy. That is another reason to criticize sports events. There is almost always a losing team. One group of fans is sure to face disappointment.
The most important reason to question the impact of sports on our culture is the way that sports fans are victims of groupthink. It often appears that they have lost their critical thinking ability. They all march to the same drummer. Maybe someday, after our species has evolved a little more, all competitive sporting events will be eliminated. Then, instead of marching to the same drummer, we will all march to our own full symphonic orchestras.