Saving America with sports

Quick quiz: Who out there likes sports? Let’s hear a cheer! Now, who out there does not like sports? Silence, except for one reader, and you need to join the rest of America or leave. Sports is as American as apple pie. No dissension allowed here.

Anyone who does not like sports is also factually, and perhaps spiritually, wrong. And I can prove this with a scientific comparison test. You see, sports is better than almost everything else, especially political reality. Here goes — imagine you are standing before an average crowd of Americans, all ages, and you ask the following questions:

1. Give a cheer if you like football … (loud cheer). Now give me a cheer if you like the Zika virus … (silence). Score one for sports.

2. Which people would you rather have to watch at work: the women’s U.S. soccer team (loud cheer) or the U.S. Congress (loud boos). Score two for sports.

3. Which American poses the greatest threat for the stability of the world: the candidate with the orange hair or Pete Rose, the ex-baseball player? No response needed, score three for sports.

Look, in our daily lives we turn to sports that are clear cut, no subtitles, a winner and loser, and, above all, at the end of the day no one really gives a darn. No one died, no one lost their mortgage, and no soldiers or police had to be shooting anyone. 

But perhaps more than anything, we rely on sports to give us cold hard facts. Compare “Yankees 4, Astros 1” to the evening news: “The unemployment rate dropped to 4.8 percent with over 155,000 people returning to work, with fewer people registering for unemployment, however these figures will be revised in a few months. In related news, the stock markets today took a tumble…” The baseball score is clean, clear fact. Valueless, but somehow satisfying.

Now you may think sports morality has recently been disappointing. There are the concussion issues with the NFL and previous steroid problems in a host of other sports. And in the case of world soccer, there is bribery and corruption, and let’s not start talking about the LA basketball team owner. And people are right when they begin to feel that modern sports and ethics are sometimes disjointed and heading into the moral abyss. But when you compare that with the almost daily bribery in politics (funding, super PACs, lobbyists, kick-backs and just plain cash for votes), sports is not only cleaner, it doesn’t matter. I mean, think about it, no one is about to launch a missile because a baseball player bets on baseball or a football was 1 psi lower than is should be, are they? Heated debate? Busy lawyers? Sure, but it’s all harmless compared to sending troops to fight overseas, isn’t it?

So, I have a solution to America’s malaise with the political system: Corruption in sports could save the world. Imagine if most members of Congress would be encouraged to make more money and be more famous and have more power in sports instead of taking bribes in Congress. And there is another issue to consider. Imagine if the head of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, has been a politician instead? He’d now probably be in front of a war crimes tribunal. 

So I say, encourage the politician of your choice to buy or steal or maneuver control of a sports franchise. If your state representative ran a beach volleyball team, he could take bribes from the beach resort, fix the height of the net, generally corrupt the game and, in the end, the greater good would be that he didn’t have political power over your lives. OK, beach volleyball would be less ethical … but come on, which corruption would you prefer? 

You see, in the end sports doesn’t matter. It may be painful to hear, but sports is entertainment, and if we could entice all those crooks to change professions we would be safer and, yes, sports would be (more) morally empty. I’d choose morally empty entertainment over crooked politicians any day. And I have proof too … Hollywood business leaders anyone?


Peter Riva, a former resident of Amenia Union, now lives in New Mexico.