The good and ill of professional sports
I watched Last Chance U over the last couple of days. It's a Netflix Original documentary series about a junior college football team. It was very interesting, if somewhat bittersweet at the end because you actually connect with these people. The production is very much there (as expected from Netflix) and at only six hour-long episodes you can't say this is too much of a commitment. It is very good and definitely worth the watch.
Though it isn't directly addressed in the series, I always question myself about watching sports. On one hand, it is a gruesome meat-grinder of a thing that is simply done for our entertainment. Particularly in football this is noteworthy with the NFL being such a terrible organization for players, the serious medical risks the athletes have and the very few people who actually receive and can maintain the success plus the financial burdens that come when they actually get successful. Many an athlete have gotten rich quick and basically squandered everything they had. Add to that the fact that much of the revenue that is generated by sports is trapped into its system. The documentary opens by showing the contrast of a rather run-down town with almost no businesses while they have a 5,000 seat brand now football stadium, and how many states are there where the highest paid government official is a college football coach? Meanwhile, student athletes are prohibited from being paid by the NCAA.
On the other hand, for some of them this really is the only chance they might have at success in their life, particularly some of them who come from very dire circumstances. As such, perhaps professional sports are just a symptom of a more general societal ill, where we value our personal entertainment more than the education or even the basic welfare of our fellow human beings. And does that in-and-of itself make me a hypocrite for liking hockey and professional wrestling?
Or perhaps professional sports is simply a necessary consequence of an advanced society where warfare is at least hopefully seldom a necessity and physically gifted people have a drive to compete and find who is better at being physically gifted without murdering each other (again: hopefully). Eventually there will be some interest and where there's interest there will be a revenue stream somehow, easiest of all of course being betting. As much as amateur sport is proclaimed to be noble, if there is sport there will eventually, consequentially be professional sport and with that comes the commodetization of athletes. I struggle with this though since it seems a Gamergate-esque excuse of "the invisible hand of the market" to sweep problems under the rug.
I for my part am not sure how I reconcile my love of watching sports with the knowledge of how the sausage is made.
Anyway, that's just the things that shoot through my head. How about you?