The Relief Valve

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Strong passions can erupt in unpredictable ways.

The government understands this – and desires that strong passions be diverted in a harmless – to the government – way.

Enter the cultivated, culturally and socially enforced obsession with organized, mass spectacle sports.

Fuuhhhhhtttttball especially but also the others.

These games – a new one to keep people busy almost every day, year-round –  are not so much “bread and circuses,” as they are often called. They are the vivification of the fictional Two Minutes’ Hate in Orwell’s 1984. A means by which the passions – the frustrations and anger of men in particular – are diverted and dissipated.

In order that they aren’t directed at anything important. 

Such as the ever-increasing control exercised over men by the state.

In red giant stage America, the average man has little meaningful control over his life. He does as he’s told – from driving the speed limit to paying “his” taxes. In the land of individuality, collectivism and conformity is the rule.

He must Submit and Obey. He must never raise his voice to question authority.

This stifling of independent action, punishment of deviation from any official orthodoxy and relentless suppression of independent judgment and self-reliance… this systematic thwarting of a normal man’s inclination to be a man. . .  well, the pressure builds.

The movie, Falling Down, captured this brilliantly. Unfortunately for Michael Douglas’ character, he wasn’t interested in “the game.”

The demand that men submit and obey is also hammered into today’s boys – usually by women.

Orwell got one thing wrong. It is not Big Brother.

It is Big Sister. 

Everywhere, there are short-haired, pants-suited termagants vested with power; the sort who in a better time would have been spinster librarians and generally harmless. Today they infect bureaucracies such as EPA and DOJ and many others besides.

We encounter them at the doctor’s office and DMV.

The beetle-like little men that Orwell described abound, too. But they tyranny of our times is not a masculine tyranny such as Stalin’s. Note that in the Soviet Union, people were still largely free to partake of petty vices such as booze and cigarettes. Soviet power didn’t limit the size of sodas or force people to wear seat belts. It enforced political conformity only.

Maybe that’s why fuhhhhhhttttttball was never a big deal in the Soviet Union.

America’s tyranny is the tyranny of the elementary school marm over grown up men. 

These days, a man can’t even paint his own house without first begging permission from the local Gertrud Schlotz-Klink. . . and if he doesn’t cut his grass when ordered or erects a shed unapproved…

Threatening letters.

Then a lien or some other encumbrance. Eventually, the thug scrum will come. So he learns to do what he’s told.

The rage boils but silently; it must have an outlet.

Enter the game.

He is empowered! On Sunday, he can be bellow like a rutting Cape Buffalo as his team takes the field. He basks in the reflected glory of their victory. He merges with the crowd, it overtakes him. Becomes him.

He is a member of the community of men once more.

Garish flappy pennants festoon his vehicles.

This, of course, being not only allowed but encouraged by the government.

And when “we” lose the game, our cuckolded American sports worshipper is demoralized and dejected – sometimes, for days on end. He feels great disappointment.

He is angry.

But in a way utterly harmless to the government.

He seethes, he yells, he shakes his fist . . . at the enemy team on the screen.

Never at the true enemy. . .  .

Axiom: The more hopeless a society is, the more under the thumb of the government-corporate nexus, the greater the adulation of professional sports teams and the deification of athletes. It is a kind of sweaty lottery – a means of dangling desperate hopes before hopeless people who might become dangerous if it ever occurred to them that there is no hope for them.

But hey – did you see that tackle?

The most loathsome dog torturing thug, outright rapists and murderers… beloved and forgiven, so long as they can run and throw or catch.

Always “the game.” Tonight’s. Yesterday’s. Tomorrow’s. An endless obsession with irrelevance.

Enstupidation accelerates.  

It has been said that religion is the opiate of the masses. But religions center on values – and so, upon philosophy.

In other words, on things that matter.

The game does not matter.

All the natural, healthy emotions – including most especially anger – are adroitly redirected. Instead of being furious about constantly being required to disprove his alleged guilt, about having to submit to random, probable cause-free searches and such like by an increasingly tyrannical state, about being micromanaged and taxed and never, ever left in peace . . . the gelded, stoop-shouldered creature sitting in front of his TeeVeee is apopletic  about that “bad call,” that the “we” weren’t able to convert on third and long.

He is a fan – truly, in the actual derivation of that word. A fanatic  – about things properly the concern of children and the feeble minded.

Just what’s needed, from a certain point of view.

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82 COMMENTS

  1. The article linked below was not written explicitly in response to this article, but this is the kind of sentiment I reference in the article. In brief, it has become trendy in some right-wing circles to bemoan America’s preoccupation with sports. While I get the point on an intellectual level, I think those who make it fail to appreciate the reality on the ground. Sports are such a big part of the culture that not liking sports sets you apart. I don’t know how they expect to connect with their potential base if they make themselves seem like they don’t have … shall we say … typical male interests. I would appreciate thoughts on my article.

    https://www.abbevilleinstitute.org/blog/a-mans-interest-sports-and-the-south/

    • Tor this is very important stuff, if those town didn’t provide stadiums, the teams might leave. The people in the towns would be crushed.

  2. I can happily say, as one who does not have any form of antenna/cable/internet TV in my home, and who does not listen to the radio, nor have much contact with other dudes, much less sports fans, I still do not even know which teams played in the Supper Bowl, much less who won it!

    I take almosy as much pride in being able to say that as I do in being a high-school drop-out! The things of this world…. [err, was gonna quote a Bible verse there, but I think I made that heathen Eric cover his eyes! 😉 )

    • Hi Nunzio,

      I inadvertently heard the name of one of the teams involved. That is the extent of my knowledge!

      And: Quoting verses is ok with me; I don’t mind talking religion. I’m actually interested in that. I’m just baffled by religious certainty, that’s all! 🙂

      • I hear ya, Eric. I’m a Christian, but it’s organized religion that I have a problem with- including much of what passes for Christianity these days. (I really wish there was a different term for it…as “Christian” has been so abused and defiled by many who claim to follow it, that it now conveys a false image.)

        • Nunzio, I get your take. I think Christianity, like most religions, is bizarre but I appreciate a lot of what Christianity is supposed to represent even though far too many “Christians” do a lousy job of it.

          The interestingly weird thing to me is that as a Napian I practice Jesus’ two commandments, especially the Golden/Silver Rule, more than most Christians I know (I do not believe in gods but I interpret the commandment to love god to mean love only what is good).

          And I want to give you congrats on dropping out of high skool. What an utter waste of youth it is sitting in those conformity factories. The day my son called me at work to tell me he walked out of class and was never going back was one of the proudest days of my life. I knew then that he was his own man – as all true men are.

          • Thanks, Skunk!

            The day I turned 16 and was able to quit indoctrination camp, was one of the best days of my entire life! (In practical terms, I had pretty much stopped going long before then- That was just the day it became “legal”).

            I sincerely wish I could sue the collective government for all of the wasted time. Not just wasted time, but time when I was in the prime of life!!!!

            School only taught me one thing: That we are not free.

            When pressed, my mother admitted that she had to send me to school, or “they’d take me away” Hmmm…that doesn’t sound like freedom, even to a 7 year-old.

            We were told that taxes were “voluntary contributions”. Funny, in the newspapers they made us read (So we could learn what was going on half way around the world in the Mid East) there were stories of men who had small businesses and who didn’t “contribute”, getting raided and hauled off to jail….

            I thought about those things. Other kids didn’t seem to care. They liked the……sports… 🙁

  3. Hi Eric. Spot on as usual. As Tionico pointed out, it can be fun jacking with the fans. When I’m feeling generous and they hit me up with “How ’bout that game?”, I merely explain that the only “sports” I am interested in are weightlifting, shooting and motorcycling because I actually participate in them. If I’m feeling ornery when they ask “How ’bout them Cowboys?” (or any other team / sports genre) I respond straight-faced with “I really don’t know much about ice hockey” (or soccer, La Crosse, etc.).

    It’s amazing how many “true believers” take me seriously and start “fan-splaining” their particular sports “denomination” to me. Then I shut them down with my standard disclaimer that I don’t play X, therefore I don’t follow X and if they’d like to talk about weightlifting, shooting or motorcycling… I had one coworker that was so adamant about repeatedly attempting to educate and evangelize me on sports I literally had to tell him to “Shut the f&#@ up and go sit down!” (wisely, he did). Sheesh! For some folks it really is like a religion.

    Another of my coworkers accurately pointed out that there are only two kinds of people: Doers and drifters. If one spends a nice Sunday afternoon sitting on their duff in front of the idiot box they’re drifting. When I have leisure time I prefer running around the back yard chasing a Frisbee with the neighbor kids, carving canyons on my bike or putting some lead down range with my best friend. I haven’t watched TV, much less sports, in years. That’s probably one reason many of my male contemporaries look like they’re eleven months pregnant and I do not. I intend to “quit” doing these things when they put me on my funeral pyre; but not before.

  4. Great article.

    As the primary customer facing person in my company, I sometimes need to make small talk.

    I always dread the “Did you see the game?” question.

    I work with auto engineers. I can’t make small talk about cars most times since only some (perhaps even most) know how the car actually works outside their very narrow area of expertise.

    I was invited to a basketball game for the Detroit Pistons. Let me see: Guaranteed traffic jam an the way there + guaranteed traffic jam on the way back + staying up late watching something I could give a rat’s ass about does not equal “good times” in my book.

    To quote Homer Simpson:

    “GO LOCAL SPORTS TEAM!”

    • When I was c. 14, some friend of the family took me along with their kids to a local softball game in a nearby town. To this day, 40 years later, I still remember that as being the most boring several hours of my entire life! Luckily, that experience killed off any potential of me ever being a sports fan, although I suddenly began to understand why people commit suicide. (You haven’t lived though, until you’ve seen obese beer-bellied factory workers running bases!)

  5. Eric, on this topic, you have overreached and so, I must respectfully disagree.

    You have created at least two false dichotomies in framing your essay. First, you assume that if a man is a passionate fan of professional football and / or college football, he must be a willing dupe of the progressive matriarchy and either incapable of, or blind to, more important matters of the day. Your strawman has more straw than Ray Bolger’s costume in the Wizard of Oz. Do you really think that all, or almost all, passionate football fans have never read Rothbard? Do you really think that all, or almost all, passionate football fans do not understand that we live in an electronic cage?

    A second dichotomy: Passionate football fans are do-nothing losers.

    Like it or not, there are passionate football fans who are entrepreneurial heroes.

    Like it or not, there are passionate football fans who generate lots of income and wealth.

    Like it or not, there are passionate football fans who have enough wisdom to recognize that the vast majority of football players and coaches are not sociopathic rapists and murderers.

    Like it or not, there are passionate football fans who are also fans of Tom Woods, Butler Shaffer, Thomas DiLorenzo, Judge Napolitano, Bionic Mosquito, and Walter Block.

    Like it or not, there are also passionate football fans, like this one, who are also HUGE FANS OF ERIC PETERS.

    • LibertyMike, I must respectfully disagree with you. Certainly there are exceptions to every rule but on this I think Eric is spot on. Sports are a distraction, a deliberate distraction, as Eric has pointed out.

      • …sports are several things…they are a business, they are a competitive release valve, they are an avenue to fame, fortune and greatness for the individual. Otherwise why would we still know the names of Chariot Racers from thousands of years ago? Sports are also a way to excel and measure yourself against others…i.e. Professional Golf…or even….auto-racing. Simply because something is a distraction, or some people become distracted by it…doesn’t mean that it is being forced down your throat. You are always free to get up and do something else. It is like the demeaning tone people take against Video Gamers who spend 5 hours playing a video game…yet their abusers will sit and watch a football game, drink beer and get trashed…and be just as, if not more “unproductive” than the Gamer. People’s “entertainment time & dollar are theirs, it’s no one’s business how they spend it…whether it be on drugs, drink, prostitution, gaming or watching sports. It’s your dime…and it’s your ride on the planet. Use it wisely, but joyously.
        RJ O’Guillory

        • Hi RJ,

          Amen!

          I don’t dispute anyone’s individual right to spend their time however they like; the rant was merely my effusion of disgust with the cultural obsession. To me, sports obsession is a vice like any other. People have a right to partake of vices; I have several myself.

    • Hi Mike,

      I think being “passionate” about the outcome of a game played by professional entertainers is silly. It’s about the same as being “passionate” about who wins Survivor or The Batchelor. The outcome is an irrelevance, except to those who get paid to play.

      And I maintain that the literally fanatic obsession with these games, the fortunes of the teams that play and the literal veneration of athletes – is demented and degenerate.

      • Great article, Eric, all true. People getting angry at the other team or getting depressed when their team loses a game is misdirected. Speaking of anger, I recently came across one of those authoritarians who loudly advocates the police-state policy of “do not resist”. He gives training sessions to SWAT goons and other police. He has been quoted as saying that after killing someone, a cop will have the best sex of his life. That is the type of person who gets me angry. Fortunately, I have his email address so that I will be able to send to him my standard response to police goons, comply-or-die thugs, and their supporters.

        • Hi Rick,

          Thanks!

          Mass spectacle sports appeals to something base in people. They invest emotion in the outcome – which is bizarre, given they have no stake in it (unless they have made a bet and money is on the line). The people on the field are paid entertainers – heavily paid and heavily tax supported. Nothing meaningful occurs, yet fans pore over each play. Men run and throw/catch balls; they score points. They do this very adroitly. But it is a child’s game blown up to demented proportions. One game after the next, year after year. Men running, throwing and catching balls.

      • “I think being “passionate” about the outcome of a game played by professional entertainers is silly. It’s about the same as being “passionate” about who wins Survivor or The Batchelor.”
        I remember being surprised and somewhat disgusted a few years ago when the previous nights winners and losers were reported on the news! Same song, different verse.

    • LibertyMike, I would even take it a few steps beyond what Eric says: I think team sports are a microcosm of collectivism. Think about it: You forgo individualism to be just another cog in the machine of the team; the ultimate goals of the team come before all else; you are a mercenary whose only loyalty is to whomever is paying your salary; etc..

      And then there is the militaristic aspect of most sports: You invade enemy territory and capture their ball or plant your ball or puck [whatever] in their defended zone; Whoever successfully uses the most aggression or violence wins, without regard to anything other than the ultimate goal of winning….

      Of course, there may be exceptions, but I’ve observed over the years, that I can predict who is a big sports fan based on how agreeable they are to collectivism and militarism, and vise-versa: Show me the biggest sports fans, and I’ll show you a guy who has a giant velvet flag in his living room; who glories in war, and who has no qualms with any gov’t program, no matter how socialistic it may be.

      This is also why so many women are into sports these days. As women have become more socialistic and militaristic, they naturally gravitate toward the entertainment which embodies those things.

      • Again, skunkbear, Eric, and Nunzio are trading in generalized, undifferentiated, nuance-free generalizations.

        Part of being an informed, sagacious, rugged individual is the ability to debate without reliance on some sweeping trope the truth of which has not been entered into evidence.

        I note that none of you actually addressed the points I memorialized.

        Skunkbear, you assert that sports are a distraction, a deliberate distraction. Is it fair to assume that your contention is that organized sports are a distraction deliberately concocted by the state to avert the eyes of men from the evil done by the statists? If so, was this the plan ab initio? Do you have evidence to support such a proposition? Did Woodrow Wilson approach George Halas about this?

        Eric, why would you compare the outcome of a television series like Survivor or the Batchelor with the outcome of a football game? The analogy is inapt. The outcome of Survivor and its progeny are scripted – and unless you have incontrovertible evidence that the NFL fixed last night’s game, the outcome of the Super Bowl is not contrived as it is a result of actual competition.

        It is okay to enjoy entertainment. It is neither okay to denigrate others for so doing nor ascribing attributes to them that are just not in evidence.

        Nunzio, I agree with the thrust of your collectivism point. I loathe the fly-overs and the incessant shout outs to uniformed “heroes” and the like. I also loathe the melding of baby boomer, pop rock, generation X, hip-hop cultural gibberish with sports.

        However, you folks are like born again fanatics with how you view sports. You appear to be utterly without moderation and nuance. Just because one enjoys sports does not thereby mean that one is a willing dupe to collectivism and statism.

        Although I do not comment everyday here, I think that most EP regulars recognize that I stand second to none in my love of liberty and individuality.

        • LibertyMike, of course we are talking in generalizations otherwise every post here would be ten pages long. There are always exceptions for just about everything but it sometimes tends to be that those exceptions help prove the rule.

          No, I do not contend that The State concocted major league sports but The State appropriated them – and vice versa – when they went from simple entertainment to Big Businesses.

          Look at all of the pageantry at the games and you will see that much of it is to the glory of The State. Military jet flyovers, military personnel participating in the events, stadiums built by taxpayers instead of the owners, etc. Breads and circuses at the minimum.

          And the big tell is that the NFL is a monopoly, State granted of course. Now why would The State grant something with so much political and monetary value without wanting to get something in return?

          State propagandists know that it is easier to influence a crowd than an individual person. So the NFL brings in the crowds and The State seduces them.

          By the way, I used to be a big fan of football especially college until I saw the light and the folly of it all several years ago. I still cannot believe all of the time I wasted – my youthful years! – watching such nonsense. A horrible waste.

          • Thank you for your reply, skunkbear.

            Of course, as an ancap / libertarian, I loathe the state’s appropriation of competitive sports. As I mentioned above, the interminable salutes to the troops, the fly-overs, the flags covering the entire field, the addition of god bless America to Take Me Out to the Ballgame in the 7th innings of MLB games, and every other manifestation of statolatry disgusts me.

            The fact is I am conflicted about this and it has been on my mind for years. The constant messaging of both glorification of, and submission to, the state at sporting events has lessened the fun I used to derive from attending sporting events.

            True to my libertarian and contrarian nature, from the time I was 14, when the Patriots lost to the Raiders in 1976, I have never rooted for laundry. Instead, I have rooted for whom I wanted, whenever I wanted, and it has generally been the underdog.

            Sure, I would agree that most people do not even recognize the relationship between sports and the worship of the state. It just does not even register – even when they complain about Colin Capaernick refusing to stand for the star spangled banner.

            Although neither Eric nor anybody else has touched on it, what I find nearly as disgusting is the constant integration of pop culture with sports. Call me old-fashioned, but I do not want to hear 10 second snippets of pop rock / hip hop tunes between pitches and during timeouts. It is nauseating. Just give me the game.

            I suppose the integration of pop culture with sports would tend to support Eric’s narrative – more distraction.

            At any rate, please forgive my rant.

            • LibertyMike, thanks for asking for forgiveness but there is absolutely nothing to apologize for. This is the Adult Table where gentlemen (mostly) come to discuss things. Your views are certainly valid and appreciated even though I or others might not agree.

              You bring up a good point about pop culture being infused into sports as well. Pop culture is itself a debased commodity so it meshes well with modern sports. Again, breads and circuses for the dumb masses.

              In proper context sports should indeed be a distraction – but only momentarily and not full time. IOW sports and entertainment should be the dessert (or least only a side dishe) and not the main entree. Sadly, that is not the case in US amerika anymore.

        • Mike, I think I can say that I speak for us all when I say that we are not denigrating you. We are speaking in generalizations, so of course, those generalizations do not apply to everyone/under every circumstance.

          I’m sure there are things in my life which some might see as being somewhat incompatible with the political and philosophical values I hold, but as long as those things are held in their rightful place, and we do not allow our fondness for them to overthrow the greater things, there is no problem.

          So I’m not saying that you can’t like sports, or that to do is somehow “proof” that you aren’t a libertarian- I’m instead just pointing out some general observations on the subject.

          Hey, I don’t watch TV, but I will admit to having the entire Seinfeld series on DVD, which I’ve watched several times over! I can think of many reasons why I could/should be opposed to that show….but I just enjoy watching it….so I do it. I’m sure it’s the same with you and sports.

          I was actually very surprised to find out just upon reading these comments, how many others here actually view sports in the way I do- It was quite unexpected. I have one real-life friend who is a libertarian…and he watches football!

        • My final disconnection from professional sports was when I noticed that there was much done to bring about a desired outcome. Once I saw it I could not watch a game the same way. That was 20 years ago before sports became infested with military and state worship. It is not perfect. It is like politics. An edge. A very good team playing their best overcomes it, but less than that it works.

        • While many sports have a history long before the modern state they have made deals with government on the professional level. I can’t stomach the military worship. Because of my current activities I saw the end of the Superbowl and was subjected to a Korean car maker showing how they supported the troops in Poland. Arg. Even if I liked watching it that stuff would cause me to change channels. I have stopped listening to radio stations just because of annoying ads.

          • Same here, Brent. You’ve verbalized what I’ve long felt to be true. It’s pretty much impossible to watch TV/go to the movies or listen to the radio, unless you buy into the whole megillah- the “Heroes keeping you safe” and the “troops fighting for your freedom” [where is this supposed freedom?], et al. And the “news” and the commercials are the very worst.

            And you can’t go back. Once you step away from all of that crap, you can see the mind-control of it all so clearly.

            I’ve always said, this modern Orwellian state trhat would make Hitler and Stalin envious, would not have been possible without TV (and government schools).

            So with sports, they get everyone cheering for the local team…and what better time to unite those people into cheering for the national team? The one that marches into the opposition’s territory, even though the opposition isn’t it’s enemy. The one who captures their oil, and then calls a penalty when the opposition yells foul or tries to fight back after we’ve taken over their box office and pissed on their field and raped their fans.

  6. Major League Baseball and the NFL have a government approved monopoly dispensation. That’s because pro sports is a herding process used to create national unity and group-think. It appeals to the unthinking which is 80% of people. The stars of the NFL are hired guns earning +$10m/year with no loyalty to a city or even a team. The team owners are billionaires yet people identify with “our” team. The owners and players see it as a business and a way to make big money. It’s foolish to buy into a personal identification with these coliseum sports teams but few even think about it. Buzz-cut cops and sports kooks – scary stuff.

    • In some ways it is “our” team. GovCo funding stadiums with tax dollars taken at gunpoint is but the tip of the iceberg. If you figure in the fact that GovCo also runs the farm systems for the NFL & NBA via the “public schools” and GovCo universities. The billions spent on that little venture allows team owners to really rip off the tax sheeple.

  7. “Soviet power didn’t limit the size of sodas or force people to wear seat belts. It enforced political conformity only”

    This is a brilliant point that I’ve espoused for years: I daresay that the common man was more “free” in many small but important ways in Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union than in the USA today, and that’s because those societies were still dominated by and functioned primarily for the benefit of men. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love women and certainly wouldn’t want to live under any form of Socialism (national or otherwise) just because men were running those societies, but we truly are undergoing a “tyranny of the feminists” in some ways as you suggest. Women’s primal needs of security, safety, and emotional stability are mostly incongruent with men’s primal needs to take risk, innovate freely, and fight for supremacy.

    • For the benefit of men? Not really. Men have always been disposable. Things simply were not as out of balance. When life was much more difficult and dangerous the traditional arrangements served women’s needs and wants. Starting in 19th century the upperclass women wanted more and different. As prosperity grew its effect grew.

      Thus Soviet poverty is the primary driver imo

  8. Two quick remarks regarding professional sports:

    I’ve noticed how “sports” serves an important function as a lingua franca of male social interaction as a generally innocuous form of communication that can take place between men (and maybe women as well) of different ages, intelligence, experience, or social standing discussing a subject that can be easily learned and is popular enough for all to understand. “Sports talk”, rather than talking politics, women, social trends, or a thousand other subjects, allows men to carry on a discussion with someone they might not know using the intermediary of a subject that will rarely cause a riot or a fight, or generate hard feelings. “Sports talk” is “safe” talk.

    Second, without gambling, there would be no professional sports.

    • Re: Lingua franca:

      I love it, when someone who doesn’t know me, but with whom I have to interact, comes up to me and says So, how about that [insert name of illiterate buffoon who caught a ball]?” -and I stand there for a few seconds, frozen, like a deer caught in the headlights, trying to figure out what the dude is talking about…..

      Imagine if instead, people were intelligent and cared about things that mattered?! You’d interact with some delivery guy, and he’d say “So, how about that Murray Rothbard?!”. Man, if only we lived in a world like that, eh?

  9. Great article! I would enjoy watching pro football if they changed the rules a little. The teams would represent different political factions that played until one team had literally killed or incapacitated the opposing team. Oh and the “Quarterback” would necessarily be the person who had the impetus to cause the conflict in the first place. We could bring our overextended and abused troops home from “Policing” the world and give them productive work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. Kind of an inverse “Rollerball” scenario. Where the people who were the actual shit stirrers risked their own lives instead of coopting Boobus Modernicus to do their bidding for them. Oh well wish in one hand and shit in the other I guess.

  10. Great article Eric! Reminds me of my younger and (more) foolish days, when I was in one of the more football-crazy universities and would go for home games. Even then, I was struck by how the entire stadium would start baying for the opposing team’s blood as soon as they arrived, and would think to myself: this mob can be made to do anything right now, just like the followers of Hitler, and the lynch mobs of yore.

  11. Earlier in life I was a “fan”. However, that began to wane in my early 30’s. When I decided to be a “doer” not a “viewer”, I’ve lost most all passion for watching others perform.

    I will watch others race because that is what I also do. Many times those I watch are friends of mine either driving or crewing. Time I used to spend watching others now goes into my own efforts and is time far better spent. I pity those I work with that attempt to ridicule the fact that my son and I race a Miata, knowing that they spend time sitting on their butts watching hockey of all things.

    PS: VIR March 11-12…

  12. Trump is pissing off liberals so much that football is now a political sport: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1QthkJVqDI

    I think sports are great to participate in and learn some values for kids, but I don’t get the mass appeal to adults. I watched as a teenager, but I also PLAYED as a teenager. Once I stopped playing, I stopped watching. I don’t understand why any grown man would wear another man’s name on his back or chest and NOT be PAID to do this. I refuse to PAY to wear logos or give free advertising.

    Eric, the NFL fanaticism is out of control.

  13. How else can obese, cuckheld, emasculated men feel like winners in a society that penalizes testosterone from the age of five – if not for “professional” sports?

    Though inflicting “laddy gaga” and marxist protesting quarterbacks seems to indicate that the “relief valve” is beginning to get blocked up too. Add in MLB “domestic violence” suspensions and “gay night” at Citifield, the valve is being turned off.

  14. Bravo!

    Usually, I lose interest fast when you wander off the car review/road test reservation. But you Hit a Home Run this time. (Pun intended. 😉 )

    You have succinctly stated about “half” of the reasons I consider the IOC and the NFL to be two of the most evil institutions in existence.

  15. Gee, Eric, I never realized that I was the only sports fan who reads your column. I started played organized sports around age 6 or 7, and kept at it long after college. I started running and lifting weights in college, and continued until being badly injured in a car accident at age 40. I enjoyed the competition, the exercise, the fresh air, and the camaraderie with the people I worked out with. Even today. I enjoy the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots, having followed both teams since 1960.
    That said, following my teams takes up very little of my time. Life will go on if the Patriots lose tonight’s Super Bowl. Like you, I shake my head in wonder at those fans moping around after their team loses.
    Despite my lifelong interest in sports, such interest takes very little of my productive time. I still have more than enough time to build a business, follow my passion shitting on Democrats and Republicans wile proclaiming the gospel according to St. Paul (Ron Paul). I have time to be active in my community and at my church. I’m not mechanically inclined, and haven’t worked on a car since totaling my 1978 Ford LTD II, the worst car I ever owned. I do enjoy your columns and happy that I am able to contribute a few bucks each month to keep you online.
    My favorite line in your column: “The most loathsome dog torturing thug, outright rapists and murderers… beloved and forgiven, so long as they can run and throw or catch.” Until I got to the last 10 words of the statement, I swore you were talking about a Kennedy, a Clinton or a Bush.
    Go Patriots!!

  16. GAGA goes inclusive
    Crowd starts shouting Trump! or MAGA, or one of the other chants.
    Antifas start punching “nazis”.
    Riot ensues.

    Maybe not, but this country is now a powderkeg.

  17. Interesting thing I’ve noticed, too:

    When I moved from the city to the country, I thought “If it’s unusualy to find men in the city who aren’t interested in sports, it’s probably going to be even worse in the country!”. But just the opposite is true. My neighbors here all have their farms and businesses, and exercise dominion over land and animals and equipment, and it’s actually rare to find one who talks about or watches sports! Men who live in the surrounding small towns and small cities though, are another story (such as the one I describe below, who lives in a town).

    • Hi Nunzio,

      This is spot on.

      I live in The Woods – rural SW Virginia – and none of my male friends give a flip about “the game.” And these are manly dudes: A metal fabricator, a professional mechanic, etc. One of them – the guy I lift weights with – is a competitive cyclist who works out with 275 pounds (free weights) on the incline bench.

      I think the difference between us and the sport-addled is as you’ve described. We have things to do – and we do them. Ourselves.

      And when we get together to talk, we discuss what we did or are going to be doing (among other things). Not what a bunch of guys on TeeVee did!

      • and guess WHO will live far longer, be more productive, happier, and have something to pass along to others?

        I’ve said for years that when Team V’s win puts more or better food on my table, makes my car run longer on a gallon of diesel, helps me sleep better at night, or live longer, then maybe, just MAYbe I’ll get just the slightest bit interested in where that stupid pointy ball ended up.

        I’ve had my fun respnding, when asked, “well, how many points up do you think the ____________ team will be in the game tonight? to which I DELIGHT in asking “Game? What game? Oh, there is a game on tonight? What kind?” knowing right well it is the final of the Stupor Bowl……

        • Hi Tionico,

          Love it!

          I get baffled, disappointed looks – and dead air – when I do not respond with the expected gusto to inquiries about my interest in “the game.” Sports worship is one of those very clear lines separating personality types, generally (but not always) utterly incompatible.

          For me, it is right up there with fervent, convinced religiosity – which is kind of a subspecies of the same thing.

          Both freak me out. And, I assume, that goes both ways. The sports worshipper and certain true believer regard those who don’t care – or believe – as apostates, and that’s precisely the word. If you are utterly convinced about the Importance of some thing and that thing is the focal point of your life and some other person doesn’t share that fanaticism, then you haven’t got much common ground.

          I had a friend like this, once. Past tense. He became obsessed with football – and evangelical Christianity – right about the same time.

  18. Great post Eric! Boobus Americanus doesn’t care how miserable his own life has become as long as he thinks it matters whether or not “his” team wins the big game. If the media gave as much coverage to issues that matter as they do to the Stupor Bowl it would be pitchforks and torches time. Of course that will never happen since they’re deep in the pocket of the establishment; you can’t turn anywhere today without being reminded it’s Stupor Bowl Sunday, and whatever the outcome it will be rehashed ad infinitum for the rest of the week. Fuuuuuhtball is Amerika’s religion above all other sports, well described by the late great George Carlin’s comparison vs. baseball.

  19. I’ve never understood the fascination with sports. Why should anyone care? They sit around and watch a bunch of illiterate millionaires play a child’s game, and somehow experience vicarious glory through the worthless accomplishments of such boys. (Maybe if they’d drag their own asses off of the couch instead of sitting there for three hours at a time watching others, they’d be able to actually accomplish something in their own lives?).

    I’ve always maintained that spectator sports is largely homo-erotic. And now, I actually see men in real life basically admitting this [probably without even realizing that they are doing so). I was talking to a middle-aged guy recently, and he was unashamedly going on and on about how he was going “to watch the game”, while attired in a genuine imitation jersey, made to look like the one his “favorite player” wears, and even bearing his favorite player’s number!

    I kid you not. A middle-aged man (my own age) acting like a 5 year-old fawning all over his daddy. I thought he was going to say “I want to like him if i ever grow up”. Bear in mind, that this is a man who has four children of his own (all out of control; 2 openly on drugs; one a criminal) and whose wife unmistakably wears the pants…. You would think that the guy’s escapism would take the form of something which empowers him, or gives him control over something….but no; instead, it takes the form of admiring other men. Men whose only real accomplishments are the ability to throw a ball, and have a broader selection of chicks with whom to have meaningless sex.

    Root for the team, and you too can feel some of the glory-by-osmosis of the meaningless accomplishments!

    I wonder if he pops a boner while watching his favorite player? [shudder]

    A society filled with “men” who are so inclined, is destined for nothing but slavery and destruction.

    • Hi Nunzio,

      In re: “I’ve always maintained that spectator sports is largely homo-erotic. ”

      Yup! A bunch of dudes in skin-tight outfits, patting each other on the ass.

      I think watching “The Batchelor” is more manly… after all, it’s bunch of hot chicks in tight clothes on that show… 🙂

  20. As someone who played and loved football and–to a lesser extent baseball and basketball–until I was in my late 20’s, I don’t disagree with anything you said. Even when I loved to play and enjoyed watching, I always thought the behavior of using the word “we” was odd. Some of my friends who liked sports–I had a broad range of friends, not just jocks–would say “we” and I would think, what the hell? We had/have nothing to do with this. We aren’t playing. When “we” were playing was the only time it made sense to use “we” and “us”.

    Looking at the terminology and the ridiculousness of it a little deeper reveals why the government encourages it. “We” are republicans. “We” are democrats. “We” are Americans. ‘They hate “us” because “we” are rich and free’. One could go on and on and on.

    The more you open your eyes in life, the more you see things as how they really are, the more ridiculous it seems. But the problem is that the masses don’t have even the slightest clue of how much collectivism influences them. Even those who recognize the problem can get caught up in it to different extents. It’s all around us. That’s what happens when “they” control the narratives of what is acceptable and decent.

    “Don’t fret precious I’m here. Step away from the window and go back to sleep, safe from pain and truth and choice and ever poison devils. They don’t care about you, like I do”.–Maynard Keenan, “Pet”-A Perfect Circle

  21. It’s the perfect television sport. The field is fairly small, so you can see players easily. The plays are very short, less than 30 seconds in most cases. There’s a lot of time between plays, and stopping the play clock for commercial breaks is just fine with the league. And because there’s so many feeder teams between pee-wee, high school, and college football, at the pro level there’s very little difference between teams, so it basically is random chance. Socialistic practices like revenue sharing also help “keep it fair.”

    Football takes precedence over all other activity on television. It is the highest rated show, has the most expensive advertising, most eyeballs, most discussed activity. Even more than NASCAR (although NASCAR has a larger attendance at the venue), although European and third world “football” get much higher global ratings, but doesn’t lend itself to the TV format quite as well, and the US is still the biggest ad market in terms of revenue). Businesses produce television ad campaigns that will only ever air on football games, or even just in the Super Bowl . There’s a cartel of networks that share that revenue with high dollar contracts. The networks cozy up to the NFL and do everything they can to keep the NFL from going directly to viewers. The NFL is a legal monopoly, with the frickin’ US Congress the only regulatory authority. The main reason Disney merged with ABC was Monday Night Football. The games are regional, so the people in New York won’t see the same game as the people in Denver. This means an opportunity to sell the same ad time in different places at a national level. So advertisers have to pay up multiple times if they want to get a national stage (except for the playoffs, Super Bowl and the weekday games, which get a “yoouge” premium). The farm clubs (high schools and colleges) are plantations sanctioned and usually run by Uncle, where players volunteer to get brain damage in the extremely unlikely event they make it to the pros.

    It’s all money. Money all the way down. People advertise on the NFL because it is one of the few shows on TV that actually appeal to middle age white guys. All that money sloshing around lines the pockets of TV networks, cable companies, bars and restaurants, technology companies, and casinos. And I’m sure there are plenty of “friendly wagers” along with the various pools, fantasy leagues and just plain bookies that we never hear about. Local news runs on promoting the game of the week because it attracts viewers, and shows that the local news team is part of the city. Any cheap trinket that can have a logo printed on it sees their sales increase when they pay for permission to use the local team’s colors. What started out as a distraction for a few weeks in the fall is now an entire industry that depends entirely on the collective turning out to watch. The constant mental assault is very difficult to ignore. Even EP isn’t immune. I’m sure there will be lots of traffic and comments posted here because of the visceral reactions designed in by the marketers, even though it’s the opposite viewpoint. Eric is cashing in too. (kidding)

    When I started out in advertising I never really thought it was all that effective. One of my favorite quotes was John Wanamaker’s “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” But as time went by I saw that it does work. Even poorly produced ads placed in a popular program are able to generate foot traffic. A salesman once said that if a Realtor® saw another agent on the sidewalk with a sandwich board and ringing a bell the next day they’d all be doing it. Businessmen generally don’t put much thought into creative marketing, unless they’re big enough to hire someone, so they do the next best thing and copy the competition. Ad agencies and media companies love pitting one business against another and make sure everyone knows what the other is up to.

    Sports have been part of human nature since the earliest days. I think it must be similar to the bucks fighting over mates, along with our ability to empathize with other humans. Research shows our brains react the same way to seeing other humans perform an activity as when we perform that activity ourselves (probably why pornography is such a big deal). I think this has a lot to do with why we love sports. It’s yet another appeal to the lowest levels of our intellect. Churn up emotional tribal responses to stimulus on a mass scale and use it to make a buck.

  22. So what exactly is it about football that attracts really bad behavior? It seems that the sport is just a magnet for thugs and brigands of all kinds.

    Don’t tell me it’s the corrupting influence of big money — if that’s the case, then why do we see such bad behavior on not just professional and college leagues, but on high school teams and even Pop Warner teams?

    And don’t tell me that it’s the influence of black ghetto thug culture either — if that’s the case, then how do you explain the behavior of Aaron Hernandez and Jerry Sandusky?

    Also, don’t tell me that it’s because football is a violent and aggressive sport — if that’s the case, then why don’t we hear stories about hockey players and MMA fighters having numerous scrapes with the law?

    I live in western Pennsylvania, which has got to be the most football-obsessed part of God’s creation. If people took just one scintilla of the time and energy they devote to football and directed that to the political, social, and economic problems we have, and took the disdain they have for rival teams and directed it on the bums and crooks running the joint, we’d be one of the best places to live in.

    • Hi Bryce,

      I think it’s as you’ve described because it’s been sanctioned. Look at OJ. Literally a murderer (and he’s not the only one) but hey, did you see him run 75 yards for a touchdown?

      Be great at fuuuhhhhhhhttttttball and you’ve got a license to do practically anything because the fans don’t care about anything else. So long as you’re a great QB or running back or whatever…

      • Spot on! That’s what happened at Penn State.

        When Joe Paterno was relieved of his head coaching job at Penn State after the Sandusky scandal, the students started rioting.

        Not because Penn State’s tuition keeps rocketing into the stratosphere such that it’s one of the most expensive public universities in the country…Not because it’s so hard to find decent jobs after graduation…Not because their education is long on political indoctrination and short on practical skills and knowledge…but because two football coaches were fired for sexual misconduct.

        I suspect that if Paterno and Sandusky were coaching a badminton team with several years of losing seasons, they would have been unceremoniously kicked out years ago.

      • Again, it gets back to empathy.

        “I’m not a murderer. I remember how it felt when we ran for that touchdown. It felt great. I got a little shot of dopamine when we scored that touchdown. There’s no way he could have done it. I know him. We scored that touchdown together.”

    • I spent 10 years in Happy Valley. I never worked for Penn State and was well outside that world, but we still made a tidy profit selling advertising space to the local car dealers and restaurants when the team was on the road. If you ever get the opportunity to watch a game in Beaver Stadium I highly recommend it. Not because it’s a great experience, but because you’ll get to witness, first hand, a little slice of mass hysteria combined with a marketer’s wet dream of a voluntary captive audience eager to support businesses that share their support of “the team.”

      When I heard about the pedophile ring going on with the coaching staff, I wasn’t really all that surprised he was able to keep it quiet for so long. The amount of money coming into the college and town was more than enough motivation to suppress and eliminate anyone who might know something.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Gricar#Disappearance

      Best thing I ever did was get the hell out of there. People who stay too long start to believe the BS.

  23. Fanatic is a likely source of the word. But an alternative is found in the phrase “to fan the flames.” They know we are likely to ‘burn with passion’ about something, and deliberately direct it, as Eric says, to something meaningless.

  24. fan (noun)
    “devotee,” 1889, American English, originally of baseball enthusiasts, probably a shortening of fanatic, but it may be influenced by the fancy, a collective term for followers of a certain hobby or sport (especially boxing);
    Fan mail attested from 1920, in a Hollywood context; Fan club attested by 1930.
    Before the close of the republic, an enthusiastic partisan of one of the factions in the chariot races flung himself upon the pile on which the body of a favourite coachman was consumed, and perished in the flames. [Lecky, “European Morals”]
    http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/lecky-history-of-european-morals-from-augustus-to-charlemagne-vol-1

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