Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time

America’s addiction to sports

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New York – Last week, when a federal grand jury indicted baseball star Barry Bonds for perjury, it confirmed an ugly truth: America’s got a big drug problem.

I’m not talking about steroids, Mr. Bonds’ alleged performance-enhancer of choice. Instead, I’m talking about athletics themselves. Americans are addicted to competitive sports in ways that are profoundly unhealthy to our schools, our bodies, and ourselves. And until we confront that problem, head-on, steroids will continue to plague us.

America’s addiction to sports |

The DolFan in me wants to pooh-pooh this whole thing, but the 63-year-old who’s been watching the movement toward extremes for six decades knows better.  The philosopher wants to say it’s controlled violence, and that the energy could be put to better use for the good of mankind, but the anthropologist knows that it’s another example of the black/white, us or them, tribal need to watch the warriors perform that has bedeviled the human race for millennia, and that it discharges tensions that might come out in other ways.

What do you think?

Author: Bill

Stumbling down the Middle Path, one day at a time.

One thought on “America’s addiction to sports

  1. A timely post most any time of year in America. It could be Barry Bonds or a murdered football player in Washinton or thieves taking players’ helmets after a big college game. All these and more occurred during the week.

    I would hesitate to call sports themselves an American addiction. As the anthropologist acknowledges, soccer, rugby, cricket, the Olympics… transnational and historically rooted. Perhaps in America it is more accurate to say “entertainment” is the addiction. Video games, celebrities, television and sports all entertain us. It may be further wise to differentiate between sports and viewing versus playing or coaching.

    Little league baseball for the kids and a workplace softball team share not all the qualities of the colleges or professionals. Centuries of Buddhists practiced martial arts – even competitively.

    In Buddhist terms where do we stand? Can we not apply the same measured philosophy to all things? An action is right which does not intentionally harm. A profession is right when practiced rightly: with honesty (no cheating), without degradation. And yet in sports someone must lose almost every time and many times someone is injured. This can be a difficult struggle or a breeze. I think from a personal and humanistic perspective, the right course is to wholly accept the competitions for now, foster graciousness in defeat and wins both. Foster honesty and kindness in and around the game. Be able to smile through it all, let waves of aggression pass just as they would any other time.

    An interesting sub-topic would be back to the anthropology though. Are we rooted in samsara because of the nature to compete, show off, and win? If so, then continued sports only prolongs our societal suffering. And then, how on earth could one overwhelmingly teach that sports should be stopped?

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