I’m not a big fan of professional sports. Generally, that’s got nothing to do with the sports, themselves, since the professionals typically play at the highest level of the game. My disliking for professional sports has more to do with my feeling that the audience places itself in a weirdly supplicant role that makes me uncomfortable; they act as though they know and feel something about/for the athlete, in spite of the rather obvious fact that generally, they don’t.
The result of that is people who perform some kind of star transference and assume that because someone is good at kicking a ball into a net, or running and catching, that they are decent human beings. Sometimes. Sports like boxing fly right in the face of that – there the audience is lured into enjoying a deeply personal act of violence – again, there is transference but it’s overtly nasty.
When I do dig my head out of the sand and watch some professional sports, I have the advantage of not thinking I know anything about the team(s) or players – I can simply sit back and cheer for good play and not have any cognitive dissonance to worry about if “my” team turn out to be a bunch of horrible bastards. I suppose my strategy here is one of laziness: I can sometimes enjoy something great and otherwise ignore the nasty bits.
When the US Women’s football team won, yesterday, it was all over the news, and there were the usual dramatic pictures (professional sports also brings out the best in photographers) – but one caption caught my eye. Something about “the greatest soccer goals ever.” It hadn’t dawned on me that that’s even a thing, but I immediately realized it must be and punched in a few google searches and spent a while watching primates use various body parts to knock a ball into a wooden frame with a net around it.
So, that’s my personal favorite after watching a bunch of footage listed as “greatest soccer goal ever.”
You may need to watch it several times. The kicker knew that the other players were going to charge right at her, so she aimed the ball at the shin of one of the opposing runners and bounced it right into the goal. That shot won the world championship and made Homare Sawa a national hero.
FIFA seems to be an execrable agency of parasites who have managed to position themselves as gatekeepers to the highest level gameplay – like the Olympic Committee, the Democratic/Republican Party, and others – it’s not hard to see how they immediately become corrupt: the only purpose for their existence is to organize corruption.
The question of how to fairly pay top-notch athletes is a complicated one. I feel it ought to be equal, obviously, but beyond that, what? Since they are basically selling advertising, like Google, maybe they ought to get paid for “eyeballs.”
Professional sports also seems to bring out some of the worst attitudes in terms of nationalism and crowd reaction. I have avoided attending pro sports, entirely, since a 7th grade class trip to sit in the bleachers at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium and watch little figures performing incomprehensible actions down on the field below. I do find it interesting/fun to try to sort out what the rules of the game are, from their behavior. It’s a challenging and fun puzzle!