trained monkeys could do better

The basketball brawl between New York and Denver Saturday night is indicative of pro sports within the wider climate of the world. For those who aren't in the know, highly acclaimed NY was losing to Denver. They fouled one of our players. Punches were thrown in retaliation, the melee spread to the stands, and ten starting players were thrown out of the game. Further punishment will follow investigation, though I don't hold out much hope that those guys will be missing out on the rest of the season. It'd be like taking our top soldiers out of Iraq for bullying.

The fight shows that our knights' behavior hasn't improved much after a few centuries. Never mind the air of entitlement, or worse (coughOJcough) . At our basest, the human race is just as war-prone as it ever was. We train these players to fight like soldiers, "play to win;" we just give them different skills. The stakes feel the same, if under another name.

I've never been a huge fan of team sports--and I loathe basketball. (Ok, that might just be me, tall people make me really nervous.) When someone tells me that sports built their character or it gives their kids confidance, I feel sorry for them because they're missing out on life. The world is full of character-building opportunity and sports are pretty low on that list. By now we should have gotten past the simplicity of physical prowess as a means for upward mobility, but apparently evolution is a slow-moving animal. We think we're enlightened, but if sports are any indication, we haven't given up our warring ways.

A friend of mine recently told his daughter that others' accomplishments do not diminish our own. Frankly, I think the kid had it right. They've got an instinct for these things. It's a competitive world, and one right generally makes another wrong. Mathematics proves my point. There are only so many players on a team; there are only so many books published per year. Let's not have it thought I'm suggesting we ban sports or all entertainment, or even standards of achievement, in lieu of starving masses. I do believe in enjoying the bounty of the economic tree because it's part of furthering ourselves. Only when we can achieve our basic needs can we seek something greater, soulfull and righteous and brilliant. I just think sports, and treating sports players like princes, do little to further this end.

Going after what we want using others' failures as stepping stones, especially when we've already achieved so much, is a travesty. Maybe a better lesson would be to teach our children that our accomplishments should never diminish other's successes. Oh, we play at it. Winning coaches love to shout the name of the losing team after the game. But it's all just useless talk until we as a collective creaturehood decide what's really important. When children in other countries are starving, or walking to school under gunfire, or being recruited to fight in wars, winning on the soccer field is a hollow victory. But, competition is like a drug. The more we succeed at the expense of others, the worse the craving gets. It's a part of the human condition, but we aren't yet clever enough to extract the side effects of failure and violence.

Jebus on a stick. No wonder people act so ugly so often. Our instincts have not kept up with our intellect. We still think we're fighting to survive.

No comments: