Sports Are the Most Prominent Opiate of the Masses

In America, it is evident that people look for a distraction from the real world in any sense and by any means. It is a problem that has been growing for ages due to the fact that people are afraid to face problems bestowed upon them and avoiding said problems is simply easier. In a world that is engulfed by social media with access to a multitude of sports stories, the masses use these outlets to ultimately forget the existing problems going on in society. Moreover, because of this, it goes without saying that people use sports as a scapegoat, making sports the most prominent opiate of the masses.

In accordance to the masses, the realm of opiates sole purpose is to serve as an inadvertent distraction, which by correlation formulates to an increased sense of happiness. Opiates as a whole vary from religion to entertainment to exercise to the biggest of them all, sports. The reason behind sports being the most prominent opiate to the masses impacting society takes a negative aspect, as people don’t further societal progress simply because they don’t care to do so. It is human nature to conform to societal norm to feel a sense of belongingness. In a New York Times article titled, Sports Fandom: ‘Opiate of the Masses’, they write “Sports fandom feeds a primitive human need to belong to a whole larger than the self.” In every sense of the word, people naturally are attracted to consistency with the feeling that they have a purpose. David P. Barash, psychology professor at the University of Washington, writes that, for many, “Sports spectatorship taps a primordial human instinct for belonging, much as militaristic nationalism does. It indulges the illusion of being part of something larger than ourselves and thus nurtured, understood, accepted, enlarged, empowered, gratified, protected” (New York Times). Within this idea, Brash alludes to the fact that sports as an opiate is something that is bigger than all of us. By taking away sports the idea of togetherness also starts to fade away. People that have no idea that one another exist share a common interest that for some reason automatically formulates into an everlasting bond that undermines all that don’t share said commonality. Barash adds, “one becomes part of a great beckoning, grunting, yet smoothly functioning, and, presumably, security-generating Beast. And for those involved, it apparently feels good to be thus devoured whole and to live in its belly.”

As previously stated, in accordance to David P. Barash’s, sports or the idea of sports feel good and honestly, who doesn’t like to feel good? The philosopher Karl Marx once wrote that, “It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” And in 1843, that might’ve been the case, however, in today’s day and age the use of sports is equivalent to religion back in the 19th century. It is the almighty power that unites people as one that’s brings happiness that unfortunately hinders societal progress.

For example, The National Football League has completely taken over a day of the week. Sunday after Sunday are spent countlessly wasting their day by watching football all day to get away from reality. A day that has been spent throughout the history of time as a day of religion and sin ridding has now been taken over by a corrupt organization that grosses over seven billion dollars a year. Additionally, “The NFL split a massive $7.24 billion in revenue with all 32 teams last season. Each team received $226.4 million as part of the split, most of which comes from the various television deal.” (SB Nation) Furthermore, in accordance to the NFL taking over a day of the week, “Another study published in The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion by sociologists C. Kirk Hadaway and Penny Long Marler—known for their scholarly research on the church—backs up his findings that reveals that the actual number of people worshipping each week is 17.7% of people” (Shattuck) People are forgetting what really matters and what mattered back in their primitive state. Sports as a whole are an excuse for what has progressed society. Religion has united people through commonalities that progress society through beliefs. Due to sports, that day of the week is now purely focused on a billion dollar organization that is a hindrance to society.

With acceptance and progression of LGBTQ laws and their community, leagues like the NFL have halted said progress and the masses don’t care. For example, Michael was the first openly gay athlete to declare for the draft in the National Football League. With little detail needed, “Starting the pre-draft ranked 90th by CBS Sports, it took just three hours for sports pundits to drop Sam by 70-points. Why did Sam’s sports stock drop so rapidly, moving down to 160th on their pick list? Apparently because CBS Sports knew something that I didn’t: being an openly gay man and a NFL player were not in the cards yet” (Macarow). That nature of the game revolves around men with a multitude of different beliefs and intelligence levels that formulate into a status quo that doesn’t do well with change. If franchise owners and team management sense homophobia in the stands, it is more likely that they would be likely to avoid out gay players — right or wrong. This in turn means less players coming out, less positive role models for younger LGB athletes and ultimately slower improvement in the diversity of pro teams.” (Macarow) In a business and unfortunate reasoning, if the fans don’t want it then the teams don’t need it.

“Furthermore, it becomes extremely disturbing and frightening to see people resort to violence to deal with their anger revolving around a sporting event. It happens all the time; people rioting in the streets, flipping cars, and torching buildings to protest (or even celebrate, stunningly) the outcome of a sporting event. Yet, these are the same people who would not lift a finger, never mind a firearm, to protect and defend their very liberties against those among us who seek to confiscate them and reduce us to serfdom” (Alexander Massa)

Professional sports provide people with an escape from reality. It blinds them to the real matters of the world. Such concerns like politics, taxes, and progressive civil movements truly do affect the people’s lives directly and should matter to them. Professional sports have become an opiate to the masses, allowing large numbers of us to be more easily deceived. Ultimately, perception is reality and within professional sports lays this underlying perception that sports and the feeling of purpose and belongingness are more important than societal progress.

Brady, James. “The NFL Brought in Enough Money Last Year to Pay for 10 Pluto Missions.” SBNation.com. N.p., 20 July 2015. Web. 22 Apr. 2016.

Marx, Karl. “Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right 1844.” Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right 1844. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2016.

Massa, Alexander. “Sports: The Opiate of the Masses.” Nolan Chart. N.p., 24 Dec. 2009. Web. 22 Apr. 2016.

Shattuck, Kelly. “7 Startling Facts: An Up Close Look at Church Attendance in America.” ChurchLeaderscom. N.p., 29 Dec. 2015. Web. 22 Apr. 2016.

“Sports Fandom: ‘Opiate of the Masses'” Idea of the Day Sports Fandom Opiate of the Masses Comments. New York Times, n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2016.

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Professional Sports Causing a Delay with LGBTQ Acceptance

In today’s day and age there seems to be a certain stigma pertaining to minorities and their civil rights. As a whole, it’s human nature for people to have different beliefs alluding to the fact as to why there has been a freedom of choice as to which values to practice. In order for these minorities to express how they really feel, they aim for national attention, giving them the best chance to be thought of as an equal. Sports in general impact societal issues because they bring national attention to public matters such as sexual orientation. In recent years there has been a number of homosexual players that have tried to be iconic, but professional sports just doesn’t allow it. Even with the legality of same sex marriage and the strides the LGBTQ community has taken, it is still in a long battle with professional sports.

First and foremost, in such a large pool people, the American people will always look to go sports as kind of a getaway from reality. With this, the reality is that the viewership wouldn’t change much if the level of playing and the ability of the players stayed consistent no matter what type of individual is on the field. This makes the most sense, right? Wrong. Professional sports as a whole are actually hurting the acceptance of LGBTQ people and their community.

In a Time article written by Sean Gregory, he writes about the study, entitled ““Out On The Fields” and billed as “the first international study on homophobia in sport,” is a survey of nearly 9,500 people, mostly from six countries (the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand).“ The study concludes that over every three out of four people that belong to the LGB community have faced homophobia in sports. Moreover, “The study found the U.S. had the highest percentage of gay men reporting that they had received verbal threats in a sports environment, and the highest percentage of gay men who heard slurs. In fact, of the six countries surveyed, the U.S. ranked worst in sports homophobia and discrimination, as measured by the “inclusion score” developed by the researchers ” (Gregory). It feels like we’ve made a lot of progress with the acceptance of homosexuality in sports. But going by these results, we have a long way to go.

This brings us to Jason Collins, the first openly gay person in professional sports. In his testimony proclaiming his retirement, he dives into much more detail about how his homosexuality and professional career cross paths. In an article titled, I’m Out written by Jason Collins himself, he alludes to the hardships of his career. “Hey Jason … Jason! How come we never see you with any women? Are you gay?” The team bus was uncomfortably silent. Everybody from the front of the bus to the back heard the question. It wasn’t the first time something like this had happened. In sports, guys bust each other’s balls all the time. I had been asked that question a few different times by teammates in my previous years in the league, but this time was different. Whenever guys would go out on the town on road trips, I always had a built-in excuse—a trip to a local casino or a visit to a family friend or a college buddy in that city that I had to go see. Sometimes those friends were real. Sometimes I made them up and would sit alone in the hotel watching TV while the guys went out to enjoy the nightlife.” He is in a way letting everyone know through his dialect that the LGBTQ isn’t allowed in professional sports. Idolism is too powerful for the new generations not to listen to these athletes and try to live and be like them. So, when a gay professional athlete is coming out and pointing out that being gay was something that he was ashamed to tell his teammates on and off the court, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to delve into the idea that professional sports and LGBTQ don’t go hand in hand. Collins makes that clear in the statement “It felt like everybody on that bus was looking at me and could see right through me. Part of me was tired of running. Part of me wanted to scream out the truth and just get it over with, but I couldn’t. In a split second, that familiar survival instinct kicked in and I thought, Okay, I have to prove to these guys that I’m straight.”

Next is Michael Sam. Michael was the first openly gay athlete to declare for the draft in the National Football League. With little detail needed, “Starting the pre-draft ranked 90th by CBS Sports, it took just three hours for sports pundits to drop Sam by 70-points. Why did Sam’s sports stock drop so rapidly, moving down to 160th on their pick list? Apparently because CBS Sports knew something that I didn’t: being an openly gay man and a NFL player were not in the cards yet ” (Macarow). While Michael Sam came out and said that he believes that if anyone uses slanders and slurs than they are simply uneducated may be correct, but that is just the nature of the game. “An anonymous NFL assistant coach told SI that Sam was not drafted because franchise owners knew that an out gay player would disrupt a team’s dynamic: “There are guys in locker rooms that maturity-wise cannot handle [a gay player] or deal with the thought of that. […] If you knowingly bring someone in [to the locker room] with that sexual orientation, how are the other guys going to deal with it? It’s going to be a big distraction. That’s the reality “” (Macarow). A lot goes into the concept of professional sports. It’s more then just the players and coaches; it’s also the fans that attend the games. In addition, “Professional sports is fundamentally big business. The NFL alone raked in $7.24 billion in revenue last season. If franchise owners and team management sense homophobia in the stands, it is more likely that they would be likely to avoid out gay players — right or wrong. This in turn means less players coming out, less positive role models for younger LGB athletes and ultimately slower improvement in the diversity of pro teams ” (Macarow). In a business and unfortunate reasoning, if the fans don’t want it then the teams don’t need it.

All in all, professional sports are causing a delay in the spread of acceptance for the LGBTQ community. With the few athletes coming out and embracing their sexuality it has become apparent that professional sports as a whole haven’t come to grips with the idea yet. From players to coaches to the audience, progress still needs to be made for LGBTQ equality in national sports.

 

Sources

Collins, Jason. “I’m Out | by Jason Collins.” The Players Tribune. N.p., 09 Nov. 2014. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.

Gregory, Sean. “U.S. Ranks Worst in Sports Homophobia Study.” Time. Time, 09 May 2015. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.

Macarow, Aron. “The Group Who’s Most Homophobic in Sports.” Attn:. N.p., 13 Sept. 2013. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.