This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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I am a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the New Jersey Devils, and the Pittsburgh Pirates. I have been as long as I can remember. Each year when the seasons start, I look forward to seeing how “my team” is going to do. With the advent of the COVID lockdown, we find ourselves in a life without sports. I wondered what I would do with the time where I normally watched sports. I was worried I would not be able to fill this time.
So, Life is Better Without Sports?
However, now that the crisis is entering its third week, I am finding life without sports is actually kind of a nice place. Now I know this is not a popular opinion. There are fans out there going crazy without their opiate of athleticism. However, are you better off or worse off without sports to watch? Are you spending more time with your family? Are you taking the time to learn something new? Are you working on your career? The big question you need to ask yourself, “Were sports worth avoiding these things in the first place?”
Before you accuse me of being a dirty hippy for hating sports. No, I am not a beatnik or a hipster. I do not think people who watch sports are less evolved or any of that craziness. But until the quarantine, I never really looked at the cost of sports to society. Before we get to that, let’s look at the benefits. First of all, sports teach teamwork. This is very important in a society as collaborative as ours. Sports also teach people how to win with grace and lose with dignity. If you have watched sports the last couple of years, it has become obvious these values are fading. Finally, sports give us a reason to come together as a community. This is also very important.
One of the key detriments of sports is idolization. We teach kids athletes, and celebrities for that matter, are icons to be followed like the heroes of legend. The problem of this thinking is sports stars are human and have flaws. We see in society it is often the flaws of their heroes children emulate rather than their successes. With problematic athletes like Ray Rice, OJ Simpson, and Colin Kaepernick setting bad examples, is this something we really want to show off to our children.
The True Cost of Sports
Next, we need to look at the costs of sports. When sports were a part-time job or hobby for people who held real jobs, this was a good thing for the community to come together for. During this time, teams paid for their own fields or used empty lots as playing fields. Now we are seeing billion-dollar stadiums built with taxpayer money. This is money that the ten year lifespan of these stadiums will never recoup for the city. This allows billionaire owners and millionaire athletes to see a windfall, while generations pay for stadiums. Some of these stadiums have already been torn down and replaced.
The amount of money that athletes are paid is also problematic. Yes, their advocates will say they can only play for a limited amount of time. This, however, is the same for all of us regardless of occupation. Still, other advocates say, “they could get hurt on the job.” Once again that is all of us. I personally find it funny the same people who say company owners should not make millions of dollars a year are the same people who say athletes and celebrities “deserve” their massive paychecks. Why do we not have a society where nurses, teachers, contractors, and uniformed citizens make the big bucks and people who just provide entertainment (and journalists too) are regulated to minimum wage.
While I am not an advocate of taxes, this is a case where we need to balance the system. The salaries of athletes have skyrocketed because of corrupt unions and lobbying. These salaries have been allowed to go up because the public is subsidizing their stadiums, sometimes their travel, and many other aspects of their lives. Why? This is the modern colosseum. The fact the Coronavirus and the economy get one page in local newspapers and sports (which are not going on right now) get an entire section shows there is a problem in society. While sports will come back, now that we have discovered life without sports, they do not need to come back at $175 for a hockey ticket or $90 for a baseball game.