Some years ago, one of my readers expressed his disgust with the fact that grown adults play what amounts to nothing more than
children’s games and are paid obscene amounts of money for doing so. This all-too-true phenomenon is made possible by the fact that so many adults find enchantment in the distractions of false hero worship and the need to align with the ridiculous abstract concept of a “hometown team.”
He concluded by saying that “This illustrates the overall immaturity of the average modern American and the blaring emptiness of the American soul, as well as the modern sports businesses that prey upon these people.”
I thought he did a pretty good job of succinctly setting forth one of the most glaring symptoms of the cultural decline of America, so much so that his summary prompted me to ask myself why?
Why have we become unthinking and non-objective automatons, unable to disengage from our societal programming?
Why do grown adults get paid obscene amounts of money to play children’s games?
Why do other adults find enchantment in the distractions of false hero worship and the need to align themselves with the ridiculous abstract concept of a “hometown team?”
All these questions were answered by Aldous Huxley in his classic novel Brave New World. The “somas” Huxley wrote about were the perfect drug for controlling the masses, used by the government not only to keep people in line, but to make them docile and happy in the process. Hero worship and the absurd attachment to the self-delusive concept of a “hometown team” is the new millennium’s version of Huxley’s somas.
The hero worship of athletes whose contributions to the world include such remarkable feats as being able to “dunk” a ball through a metal hoop at a distance of zero feet … run like an antelope for fifty yards with a sphere-shaped ball under their arms … or hit a little white ball 400 feet is an integral part of the disintegration of American culture.
When an NFL team executes a big play — like, say, intercepting a pass and returning it for a touchdown — the reactions of the crowd are enough to make one think someone had just announced a foolproof plan for curing cancer. Fans go bananas, waving their “terrible towels” (or their home team’s equivalent of such), high-fiving one another, and screaming like asylum inmates for their “hometown” heroes.
It’s easy to chuckle and wave aside these Homer Simpson-like antics as nothing more than harmless nonsense, but such a deranged attachment to athletes for whom the town of their current team is but a stopping off point in their careers actually serves a purpose: It takes the spectators’ minds off their own lack of accomplishment and misery.
So long as they are mesmerized by their imaginary cause (that a bunch of athletes who temporarily reside in their city somehow make them more worthy people than opposing tribes in competing cities), it makes it a whole lot easier for scheming politicians to continue robbing them blind without fear of backlash.
I’ve often been asked if I believe professional sports will crumble right along with the demise of the U.S. economy. It’s an interesting question, to which my answer has always been in the negative.
In fact, if it comes down to it, I would not be surprised if, in the future, the government used your tax dollars to completely subsidize professional (and even college) sports teams in an effort to keep millions of knowledge-challenged minds perpetually engaged with childish distractions. (As you know, local governments have already subsidized new stadiums to the tune of billions of dollars.)
But what about the $40 million or so a year that a guy like LeBron James is paid not for working, but for playing a game every day? Surely, when the economy can no longer be falsely propped up by more borrowing, printing of fiat currency, and raising taxes on the middle class, won’t the government step in and do something about the obscene incomes of professional athletes?” I don’t think so, and here are three reasons why I feel that way:
First, because it’s important to the government that people continue to believe that wealth without work is possible. Our artificial way of life is solidly based on this widely accepted falsehood. Without such a belief to cling to, people would pay closer attention to more serious matters, which could lead to violent rebellion, which is something governments want to avoid like the plague. This is why lotteries and gambling casinos are such an integral part of American life.
Second, professional athletes are the engine of today’s somas. By being the gladiators in our modern-day colosseums, they play a key role in taking people’s minds off the meaninglessness of their own lives.
Third, people are so addicted to the mind-numbing effects of sports idolatry that they will not hesitate to wipe out what’s left of their dwindling savings in order to pay a few hundred bucks for just one more pair of tickets. When crunch time comes, you can be sure that the last thing an addicted sports fan will give up is tickets to his favorite sporting event — his family’s empty stomachs be damned.
Now, please don’t let anything I’ve said here depress you. While it’s true that you can’t do much to change the mind-set of several hundred million people, it’s equally true that you can do a whole lot about your own mind-set. Further, you certainly can teach your children and other close family members that the way to fill their empty souls is not through false hero worship and wild cheering for a team to which they imagine they are somehow connected.
I can still remember the first time the thought occurred to me that the players I was cheering for (I was an obsessed Los Angeles Rams fan) not only did not know me, they had no interest in either my well-being or the well-being of the city in which they were temporarily living due to their profession. The extent of their attachment to the city they performed in was money — period. But don’t tell that to the lost souls in the stands who wildly cheer them on.
The question then becomes, once a person realizes the absurdity and emptiness of being an addicted sports fan, what can he do to escape his addiction? I can say from firsthand experience that the answer to that question is to find a meaningful purpose in life.
Granted, it’s a hard thing to do when the political crime syndicate in Washington is continually urging him to gorge on its soma-poisoned apples, but it most definitely can be done. The challenge of our time isn’t global warming … or North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program … or Russia’s interference in our elections … or illegal immigration.
The challenge of our time is for the individual — not the group — to develop the self-discipline to refuse to relinquish possession of his mind and thereby ignore the lemming effect of the pop culture that surrounds him, then focus on rational ways to improve his own life. As Ralph Waldo Emerson so eloquently put it, “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.” I second that.