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Thread: Sports as useless culture? (no paedo talk)

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2007
    Location: Finland

    Sports as useless culture? (no paedo talk)

    Can you move this to general chat, I misplaced it. Also, feel free to lock this, if it seems to close to the original thread.
    This was one tangent discussed in the Penn Lions thread and I felt it was even more interesting than the actual subject, because there was seriously people claiming that sports culture in general is vapid. It felt like sports should be minimized to a form of exercising, which sounds horrible to me.

    My kneejerk reaction is to say that the people claiming this have never played any sports seriously, but I'd rather keep from ad hominems, but I am fairly sure that everyone here enjoys movies, music and other forms of art. Anyone who has done sports knows it can do all the same things that art: feelings of joy and sadness to start with. What it differs with is that it offers physical enjoyment of pushing your body and doing things physically. In this respect it relates to dance the most, which I find a very curious form of art/sports due to it's position as both.

    Doing something like this if not for anything else than pleasure is surely not useless?

    Sports culture in the other hand is a trickier subject. I've been a part of several clubs in several sports and I've always had great experiences in different cups, playing other teams, interacting with the audience and inside the club itself. I've gained lots from it, maybe most in social confidence due to meeting all sorts of people who I wouldn otherwise have no intention in meeting (I'd class myself outside the typical jock type). The example I have can surely be extended to everywhere.

    In global scale, we start to see the problems. Doping, blinding devotion to sports in both players (ruining their future by not studying for example) and fans (the countless fights et al done by fans in stadiums and everywhere) are just a few examples. The thing is though that there's hardly anything that comes even close with unifying people in the same way as sports does. It is a culture, it is a truly global culture and thus is immensely valuable even with it's downsides. It is the same with music really. How many lives have been ruined because of the culture associated with rock music for instance? But how many lives have gained their most memorable moments via it as well?

    The main problem is that sports is reduced into a commodity that can be gambled on. This leads to wages of millions for footballers for example, which then leads to the hurrdurr argument of "why is some hairy dude paid millions for kicking a fucking ball", which conveniently ignores that he hairy dude has probably spent his whole training it and is the world's best at what he does. It's capitalism at it's worst I'm afraid, but the sports underneath doesn't really have much to do with it. It's organizations that handle sports cultures (like FIFA) that should keep this in check, but it's not an easy task to be sure.

    It's the same with music again, where songs are reduced into sold things engineered to target audiences. Everything is weighed in gold instead of actual enjoyment or value it produces.

    tl;dr sports is not an evil entity that has no positive sides and goddammit it sounds like such stereotypical nerdrage against sports in here (I guess a small ad hominem doesnt hurt anybody).

  2. #2
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: Tokyo desu
    I think a small subset of sports out there, the part that is also the most publicly visible, does invite a vapid culture around itself... like major football programs (either kind). But the vast majority of sports going on out there, high school or college tennis leagues or cross country running or swim meets or gymnastics, happen without any fanfare and IMO are conducive to all sorts of positive values ... hard work, discipline, teamwork, self pride & confidence...

    As for what to do about the colossal sports programs that are over the top, I mean it's a very embedded culture that's crusted around them over the last century and a half... Not sure there's any silver bullet that's just going to make that culture just float away, but obviously there are things the powers-that-be can do to make the problem better and not make it worse... Like make funding more equitable across sports programs, have strong checks & oversight so the major programs don't get any undue special treatment and especially not get away with dodgy practices, etc...

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2007
    Location: Finland
    I think there's quite a big general culture gap here, because the american system, especially considering universities is mind-boggling. To put in context, where I am not a single university has a sports team that has any kind of considerable presence. They're universities, you study in them, duh. I think the focus on Finn sports education is to integrate normal studies with sports as effortlessly as possible.

    Maybe the problems considering sports are heighened in US due to it's specific culture?

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered: Dec 1999
    Location: Thiefier Than Thou
    Wft is "no paedo talk" all about?

    This is a great way to stimulate discussion. :thumbdown:
    What's yours is mijustmakemerichdamnit

  5. #5
    On account of this being a spinoff of a thread about the penn state football child abuse scandal, that was raising interesting questions (some of them about sports) but that also degenerated pretty badly. And then got locked.

  6. #6
    Don't remind us. I would like to think it won't spiral into a big pile of goo again, we'll see. Carry on.

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2003
    Location: On my bicycle \o/
    Sport is anything but useless. Play and good health are both essential for well being.

    ...But...

    If a tiny proportion of the amount of brain cells used obsessively remembering football stats and opinionating about team selection went on learning and problem solving (or even playing and healthing), we'd pretty much have fixed literally everything by now. Disease, poverty, climate... It'd all be fixed. That is unforgivable.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by demagogue View Post
    I think a small subset of sports out there, the part that is also the most publicly visible, does invite a vapid culture around itself... like major football programs (either kind).
    The same thing can be said about any mainstream popular entertainment.

    Quote Originally Posted by jay pettitt View Post
    If a tiny proportion of the amount of brain cells used obsessively remembering football stats and opinionating about team selection went on learning and problem solving (or even playing and healthing), we'd pretty much have fixed literally everything by now. Disease, poverty, climate... It'd all be fixed. That is unforgivable.
    You could say the same thing about the brain cells being used by people hopelessly flailing away at guitars and turntables or the brain cells being used to make video games or mods for them.
    Last edited by Jason Moyer; 28th Jul 2012 at 12:44.

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2003
    Location: Location, Location
    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Moyer View Post
    You could say the same thing about the brain cells being used by people hopelessly flailing away at guitars and turntables or the brain cells being used to make video games or mods for them.
    Except those activities fall under the "playing, learning and problem solving" categories he mentioned.

  10. #10
    He used those categories in reference to solving real world problems. I don't see how being terrible at playing a guitar or making a Thief FM is helping solve disease, climate, or poverty problems.

    Of course, sports also involve "playing, learning, and problem solving" to roughly the same degree as any other entertainment-oriented hobby.

  11. #11
    I could be wrong, but I think you might be taking him a little too seriously.

  12. #12
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2009
    Location: Montreal, Canada
    Very few other forms of entertainment have people rioting, or killing each other over them. In sports on the other hand, it's commonplace. In Europe it's even degenerated into open racism with soccer hooligans.
    I think all the time people waste watching, debating, obsessing about sports could be better spent in fostering culture (sports is not culture in my book), reading, etc., and society would benefit as a whole.

  13. #13
    Well, there is the argument that sport is a kind of ritualised warfare. The question then would be whether the in-group loyalty and safe aggression chanelling it fosters counters the out-group hatred and frustrated aggression chanelling it also fosters. I'd tend to think the sense of group identity is incredibly pervasive and a major contributor to social cohesion, but of course it's not..very obvious to spot, whereas the more negative aspects are really clear.
    The fact that the negative aspects (rioting, racism etc) particularly stand out is almost an argument in itself for them being the exceptions rather than the rule.

  14. #14
    You could also say, not much has changed since the days of Gladiators and the Roman Coliseum, which was common place. I think it has gotten a bit more civilized, and I say not much. Sports will always be brutal in one fashion or another. Some of us aren't into sports and some are.

    I do miss my purple nerf football I used to have. Or using my brothers great broken in baseball glove, and throwing a tennis ball against our almost 3 story house we grew up in. My brothers used to toss the ball over the house, love to watch that thing come over the house. Or taking 3 tennis ball cans, cutting out the bottoms of them, using duct tape, and fashioning them into a cannon. Poke a hole in the bottom, shoot a bit of oil, insert tennis ball, where is the lighter, and there she goes!! Damn that was fun. Oh and basketball, the ice rink we used to have in the back yard during the winter. Even though I'm not into sports now, I wouldn't trade those times, and the memories for anything.

    Sports will always be a part of our lives, either in the past for some of us, or the die hard cheese heads, or the soccer moms, and the parents that fight with the Umpires at the little league games. Hell we need more sports, too many of us are getting fat. :P There are pro's and con's to it. Isn't that about how life is anyway. Yeah.

  15. #15
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2009
    Location: Montreal, Canada
    The interesting thing about Antiquity is that while they did have gladiator contests and other such savagery, they also had a cultural love for philosophy and learning that is no longer extant today. Philosophical schools were huge in late antiquity, and people flocked to them. Compare that to today, where sports, tv, and gossip magazines govern society, and people only get a higher education if it lands them a career.

  16. #16
    I call it the dumbing down of society as a whole. That's a whole other discussion right there. Want to be smart, don't follow the norm, that meaning the US.

  17. #17
    NewDark 64≥ Contest Winner
    Registered: Jul 2005
    Location: Locked Inside Dromed
    Quote Originally Posted by Azaran View Post
    The interesting thing about Antiquity is that while they did have gladiator contests and other such savagery, they also had a cultural love for philosophy and learning that is no longer extant today. Philosophical schools were huge in late antiquity, and people flocked to them. Compare that to today, where sports, tv, and gossip magazines govern society, and people only get a higher education if it lands them a career.
    I think we often forget that history mainly documented the 'elite' of a population. To this day, in every culture in the world, we still have very little idea how most people lived. This is true up to even the Victorian Age. The main thrust of North American archaeology is the simple social aspects of ancient society rather than the classicalness of grand civilization in which the people are sort of anonymous.

    For instance, I've read textbooks which compare ancient Athens in its glory years with modern Mumbai, in that the streets were filthy and many people lived dirty lives (no offense meant to India). We know how common plague was, happening every few years in some town or city. Conditions and health were terrible for most people, they weren't enlightened in any mystical way. Even our perception of their noble and fatalistic statuary is different than what it really was, once you start adding colour back to the statues and it's revealed how cartoony they could be.

    Most people flocked to philosophy the same reason they flock to astrology now, or they believe in the end of the world. People just want to get corny little answers to unanswerable questions.

    People back then were likely the exact same as we are now, minus several of our modern luxuries. I don't think society has dumbed down, we're just more aware of how dumb we are.

    Sports are just the same pretty much. They're awesome but too many people take it too far and too seriously.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Xorak View Post
    I don't think society has dumbed down, we're just more aware of how dumb we are.

    Sports are just the same pretty much. They're awesome but too many people take it too far and too seriously.

    Or we just see more stupid crap from stupid people.

    I was thinking the same thing, some people take sports WAAAY too seriously. To me, it should be fun, WHY SO SERIOUS? For awhile, it was fun. I still like to hike, when its not 100+ degree's outside. For some families, it does bring people closer, it can bond, spending time together. Like in life, your mileage may vary.

  19. #19
    Member
    Registered: Mar 1999
    Location: I can't find myself
    I think one of the major contributors to the insanity of sports culture, as it is for so many things, is the amount of money that's tied up in it. When the NCAA is a multi-billion dollar industry, with its own licensing and contracts, something's gone wrong. Take the money out, and college sports goes back to being an extra-curricular activity that has some school pride connotations, and not the raison d'Ítre for the school as a whole.

  20. #20
    You've probably hit on a major factor right there, money.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Fafhrd View Post
    I think one of the major contributors to the insanity of sports culture, as it is for so many things, is the amount of money that's tied up in it.
    That works for any entertainment:

    I think one of the major contributors to the insanity of the videogame industry, as it is for so many things, is the amount of money that's tied up in it.

    I think one of the major contributors to the insanity of Hollywood, as it is for so many things, is the amount of money that's tied up in it.

    I think one of the major contributors to the insanity of the music industry, as it is for so many things, is the amount of money that's tied up in it.

    I think one of the major contributors to the insanity of shitty books about teenage vampires, as it is for so many things, is the amount of money that's tied up in it.

    I think one of the major contributors to the insanity of comic books, as it is for so many things, is the amount of money that's tied up in it.

    I think one of the major contributors to the insanity of [whatever it is that you're into], as it is for so many things, is the amount of money that's tied up in it.
    Last edited by Jason Moyer; 29th Jul 2012 at 12:34.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Kuuso View Post
    Maybe the problems considering sports are heighened in US due to it's specific culture?
    Yes, because in the US we have riots at sporting events where hundreds of people are killed and the stadia are burned down. Man, those Yanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by BrokenArts View Post
    I was thinking the same thing, some people take sports WAAAY too seriously.
    You're posting this on a forum with 50 page threads about how Thief 4 is going to suck after someone saw a blurry screenshot from 15 feet away.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kuuso View Post
    tl;dr sports is not an evil entity that has no positive sides and goddammit it sounds like such stereotypical nerdrage against sports in here (I guess a small ad hominem doesnt hurt anybody).
    Yeah, pretty much.

    Also, this man (and others) demonstrated the intellectual value of sports 30-40 years ago. With how rubbish 99% of the books written in the past few decades have been, I'd probably rate him as the third greatest author of my lifetime behind Douglas Adams and Richard Dawkins.

  23. #23
    So you want to tie money and obsessions to everything under the sun, and here I thought we were discussing sports. Lets keep this simple shall we.

  24. #24
    You could argue that we (as a species) or possibly we (as a culture) tend to throw money disproportionately at things that entertain rather than things that are economically sensible. Everything Jason mentioned falls under that remit.

    The question then would be whether this disproportionate distribution of resources (be it to sport, movies, FPS/RPG hybrids featuring nanotechnology, or [insert entertainment here]) is excessive enough to genuinely hurt us as a species (or culture? -We're evolving so fast culturally that treating us on a genetic basis seems far far too long-termist).

    On the one hand, it's self evident that devoting all those resources to science, technology and human betterment would be a much better idea, but on the other hand, that's not how people work, and it's not how people have ever worked. All people are stupid in at least one or two ways, and a great many people are stupid in a great many ways. Entertainment at least keeps people distracted and relatively well "socially knit", which could be considered a huge social benefit.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by BrokenArts View Post
    So you want to tie money and obsessions to everything under the sun, and here I thought we were discussing sports. Lets keep this simple shall we.
    Here I thought we were having a nerdwank about how sports are stupid and everything we're into is totally awesome, pseudo-intellectual, and beneficial to society.

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