Sports Don’t Matter


Photo from Pixabay.

Sophia Maltese, Managing Editor

In my mind, professional sports are equivalent to “The Bachelor.” They are a dramatic contest that viewers watch for the sake of distraction. And though we watch, though we crowd around small television screens to see what will happen next, that is where it ends. 

Sports are superficial entertainment and largely inconsequential to the human experience. If professional sports were not a normalized part of mainstream culture, they would easily be replaced by some other form of entertainment.

I am sure many would refute me with points about how sports build community or how sports reveal truth about America and its cities. These perceived benefits of sports, however, are not contingent upon the genre. The truths about American life would be there regardless of whether sports existed. 

In fact, there would be other, perhaps easier, ways of unearthing them, like reading a piece in The New York Times about the state of racism in our country that is backed by data, rather than inferring the nation’s climate from miniscule interactions on the baseball field.

Sports are replaceable. The commonly cited benefits would not cease to exist if sports were done away with. Community would form through different, healthier channels. 

Perhaps children would bond over their favorite books instead of which football player is the best at carrying an oblong sack of air. 

Perhaps we would turn to intelligent pastimes that create meaningful conversations instead of the gruff, overtly masculine conversations spurred by taking a ball from one place to another. How thrilling.

Not only are all sports variations of the same theme, they all propagate negative conceptions of masculinity and femininity. At the national level, the use of peppy, half-dressed cheerleaders is an insulting role given to women in football. 

In all major league sports, men are at the forefront. For example, the 2016 women’s NBA finals drew a crowd of 597,000 people, according to Statista. The men’s NBA final had over 20 million people tuning in.

Men in sports are depicted as strong and capable. They are role models for young boys, but instead of acting as role models, they consistently make front-page news by having affairs or being implicated in crimes. 

Furthermore, athletes cannot be trusted to play the game with integrity. Tom Brady of the New England Patriots deflated the footballs in the 2014 AFC championship game to give his team an advantage. 

This is how sportsmanship is communicated. This is what young people see. Toxic masculinity and trophy chasers. 

The role of women in football, conversely, is restricted to the pom-pom waving blonde from across the field who is there, let’s be honest, to entertain the onlookers by showing her body.

And what do we praise the men for? Running a small object to a different part of a field? Yay. This is so much fun. I love sitting by people who pay no attention to me and who scream, yell profanities and clap randomly. I love watching players in one color tackle players in a different color. I love watching my younger brother look up to family members and slowly learn when to scream, when to swear and when to finally pay attention to the people around him on Sunday afternoons.

Sports divide people. If we reduce the concept to its simplest form, we have two groups of people yelling, arguing and occasionally physically fighting each other over the insignia on their jersey. Let’s talk about that.

Since 1960, more than 400 people have been killed in sports riots across the globe, according to Chris William from 

Competition breeds hatred, so while some says sports are a way to build community, they also tear communities apart and create deep, primal divides that can descend into scenes of murder.

What few benefits sports provide are microscopic in comparison to the negative gender norms, violence and divisiveness the games create. 

Sports are yet another way to worship the elite while the corporate giants of the NFL, NBA or MLB count the cash collected from little boys who buy baseball cards and clutch them to their chests, praying that one day they might have as much value as Tom Brady.