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.