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On Sports and Happiness.
“When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.” - Goodhart's Law
I love sports. I’m fairly athletic, I can play any sport that has a ball and a stick except cricket. However, I’ve always resisted the idea of watching seasons of sports. To me it always felt like a major time suck. Even when I was playing tennis competitively, it was hard for me to rationalize the idea of spending hours watching matches (Which is probably why I’m not a professional tennis player now).
I was at the chiropractor a few months ago… I know, I’m getting old… and the woman at the front desk said “Sorry, I can change the channel back to sports if you want.” motioning to the TV behind me. I assured her that it was fine where it was. This allowed her to continue:
“It’s been on sports for 8 hours, and it’s a bunch of talking heads pontificating on what might happen or what will happen. I can’t help but think it looks exactly like the political talking heads on Fox News or CNN.”
Sports media and political media might as well be identical to me. A bunch of people, pontificating about people I don’t know, and trying to convince me that every opinion is important or brilliant. Forcing me to have an opinion about something that previously held no value in my life.
The joy of sports has gone corporate. Football in an enormous industry, every team is worth Billions. Basketball has done the best in the evolution of social media and social influence, it’s easier to know the characters in the sport of basketball. We have to ask ourselves who the GOAT of basketball is and discuss at every turn.
I’m an outsider of that world, but I have friends who’s happiness is completely dictated by their team winning or losing. We all have friends like this. As if they have some control or say over the outcome.
Where is the joy of sports today? I look around, and all I see is the business of it.
Fortunately children have a way of saving us from ourselves. There will be a new art form that starts small, maybe in Virtual Reality, maybe in the real world. This art form will start with a few obsessed individuals, and it will blossom into a fun beautiful thing. It will be unmeasurable and fun. My vote is for Quidditch.
Until then - I will continue to not watch sports, and to play all the sports.