Sports as Entertainment

I’ve long held sports as a greater form of entertainment.  To me it hasn’t been a way to pass the time like television and a lot of movies — immediately enjoyable but soon forgotten.  Nor is sports at the same level as movies at the high end of the scale in terms of a story or examination of a subject and the theater, opera or concerts.  Sports is different as most people early in their lives participate in sports and competitions and relate to watching sports as a result.  There is a civic or group pride to sports that is not found in any other form of entertainment.  When it comes to reach the largest mass of people though, the game and civic pride won’t produce the interest the leagues and networks demand.  Today it seems like the media are minimizing the sports in an effort to produce a spectacle and entertainment that will appeal to the masses in order to maximize their ratings and profits.  Look no further than the Super Bowl for the leader in producing pomp that has nothing to do with the game that is the root of the day.

The Super Bowl is notorious for producing less-than-entertaining games yet the hoopla and growth continue to rise.  The ability to market the day to the masses and attract viewers who have little interest in the NFL during the season is commendable from a marketing perspective.  The game has become so secondary however, and that can not be good for the sport.  A number of people asked me if I was watching the Super Bowl this year.  When I replied negatively and they positively, I inquired to their reasons since many were non-NFL fans, if not non-sports fans.  The resounding answer was the commercials.  Really, the commercials.  Now I view commercials like the flu, something to avoid.  Commercials have become despicable in their methods in manipulating people’s thoughts about what they need, which has led to some of the issues we are facing now.  Some people don’t see commercials as such (even arguing the whole economy would collapse without them) and find entertainment in them.  To spend five or six hours on a Sunday to see a few 30 second clips when they could see the highlights on the news channels or YouTube the next day if they wished seems very wasteful to me.  Surely commercials are not that high on the entertainment scale.  The entertainment value of the sport has been eclipsed by just entertainment in general (and if it is on TV, it must been entertaining!).

Many of those watching the Super Bowl on television will be there for the commercials, the half-time show, the party and the approval (I’m American, Hollywood because I watched the game all the Americans, movie stars watched!) and will have no idea about the players, the teams or even how the game is played.  It has become a sad reflection on our society, and in Canada, an example of the cultural influence of the US on us.  Interest in their football championship would be one thing, but a mass audience to be spoon fed thousands of corporate messages to buy more, need more, want more is the wrong kind of cultural influence.  I think Canadians should think about what they could do with that time and not be sheep for the sake of being sheep.  The only American approval that comes with watching their biggest game is in your mind, otherwise it does not exist.  There are other days and ways to gather with friends.  You may find other ways to connect with people without the television pumping messages at you.

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