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What it is with our obsession with sports?

I’ve never really understood our national obsession with team sports. Sure, they are fun to watch, to cheer for our teams and boo the opposition. And yes, athletes do absolutely spectacular things. But the whole hoopla about how sports builds character to me is silly self-justifying rubbish. Sure, football can build team cooperation. However, so do lots of other activities. I’ve backpacked on multi-day trips in the Sierras. It’s a team, it’s a group, everyone helps each other, in cooking, scrambling up and down steep terrain, etc. There are lots of other examples of non-sports team-building.

It is now abundantly clear that college and pro sports are awash in criminality, kickbacks, bribes. Almost any behavior can be rationalized, explained, and legal consequences made to go away if the athlete is important enough. This definitely sends a message to youth. But it’s the wrong message.

A conservative friend said of the football kneeling, I watch sports to get away from all this, can’t it all just go away? I sympathize with his feelings, but it can’t. Politics intrudes on sports regularly. So do criminal investigations like the college basketball bribe scandal, which is almost certainly going to metastasize, put many people in prison, and destroy college basketball teams.

Too many universities now treat academics as an appendage to their sports programs. The bigger and better the teams, the more the money flows in. Everyone gets rich – and of course the whole system got corrupted. There’s no way it couldn’t have.

Sports need to get back to its amateur roots and stay there.