My Love Hate Relationship With Sports

love hate relationship with sportsI love sports. I love watching them and I love playing them. I grew up as a Utah Jazz fan and never missed a game. I cried when John Stockton retired and cursed Karl Malone when he sold us out to go to the Lakers (I still chuckle every time I think about them getting dismantled by the Pistons in the finals that year). March madness is my favorite time of year and I was annoyed when I had mono a few years back and was down for a month, and it cleared up right before the tournament started. But at the same time, I hate sports. I hate that our youth today have such self-absorbed twerps as role models. I hate that people who provide so little real value to our society are paid so much more than the people who do (don’t even get me started on Congress). And I hate sports have become the opium of the masses in our modern society.

I don’t judge people for their love of sports. In fact, my father-in-law is the biggest sports fan I know. He’ll schedule his vacations around watching his favorite teams play in person. That’s something he’s passionate about, and every now and then I get to benefit from that passion. But I do see a lot of problems that sports have caused for our society as a whole.

Sports twist kids’ perceptions

I’m amazed at how much time and money we pump into prep sports. My wife’s 13-year-old sister plays on a select soccer team and is expected to travel almost weekly during the season to tournaments anywhere between two and six hours away, with no guarantee that she’ll actually get to play. When I was growing up, all the “cool kids” in my school were athletes. They got most of the attention and won all the popularity contests (i.e. Homecoming royalty, student body officer elections, etc.).

This makes it so that a lot of kids grow up thinking that the only way to be successful is to be good at sports. Kids get made fun of for being nerdy or scrawny, when they have just as much or more capacity to make a difference in the world. There are scholarships galore for student athletes, but not so much for other specialized skills. And why is that? It’s all about the money.

When I was young, I wanted to be an actor when I grew up. I was one of the leads in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 6th grade and I memorized all my lines the morning we began rehearsing. But other kids made fun of me because I was short, chubby and four-eyed. I noticed that all of the kids who didn’t get made fun of were into sports, so at that time, the only way I felt I could fit in was to drop my Theater class and add a Basketball class. After all, it was much manlier. I love playing basketball now, but who knows what would have happened if I had let myself be me.

Sports are a waste of time

I have absolutely no problem with watching sports. I still watch BYU football games every week, but I never fully watch the game anymore. I’m always doing something while I’m watching, whether it’s working on the blog or—well, let’s be honest. I spend most of my free time working on the blog. But really, a few hours out of the week aren’t really that bad. And it’s entertainment. But what other type of entertainment do you know of that takes so much of your time?

You see, it’s not over when the game’s over. Then you have to read about it the next day in the newspaper. You have to watch the highlights on Sportscenter. You have to see how the other teams in the division are doing. The commentary never ends. On top of that, you have fantasy sports, which is basically Dungeons and Dragons for jocks. I don’t even want to admit how much time I wasted working on my fantasy baseball team the last two years. But I won the league championship this year, so it was all worth it, right? Think of all the things I could have done with that time. We’re talking at least 5 hours a week, sometimes even more when I was doing some real strategizing.

I came, I saw, I conquered. And it really wasn’t worth it.

Sports are a waste of money

I hear a lot of people complain about how much professional athletes get paid (we’re not going to use the word “earn” here). Do you want to know why they get paid so much? Because you dingbats keep spending top dollar to watch them play! Professional sports are capitalism at its best, people. And we’re the suckers. Sure, professional sports bring a lot of revenue into the economy of the cities where they reside. There’s a lot of tax revenue that come in from it as well. But with the amount of money those cities spend on new stadiums and other facilities, I’m not really convinced it’s a win-win situation for everyone.

Then you’ve got the sports apparel. I have some shirts, hoodies, and a hat I like to wear. It’s fun to show my support for my teams and it definitely has that psychological effect of belonging to some special group, but I’ve never actually paid for any of it. In my opinion, it’s not worth the premium that you pay just to look cool. I am, however, grateful when I get them as gifts. That may seem hypocritical, but if that’s what they choose to do with their money, that’s fine with me. I’m just not going to spend my money on it.

So there you have it. My love hate relationship with sports. How do you feel about sports? What’s the most money you’ve spent on something related to sports?

(photo cred)

bt dubs, I want to do a little shout out to J. Money for sharing my post about what I learned about money as a Mormon missionary. You’re the man!


23 thoughts on “My Love Hate Relationship With Sports

  1. I used to be a diehard sports fanatic. A big time Knicks fan, Giants and Yankee fan also. I remember as a kid being so upset the Knicks lost to the Bulls in the playoffs that I turned off the TV, threw some stuff and screamed. My dad calmed me down and said, listen, it's only a game…and they don't pay you millions to play it so don't get that upset! I was still upset. But now as an adult…while I still enjoy watching some games, my life doesn't revolve around it. I have more productive things to do with my life. And this year, I even dropped out of my fantasy football league.

    1. I was pretty ticked too when the Bulls beat the Jazz in the Finals two years in a row. I'm probably going to stop doing fantasy baseball next year too. It's fun but not worth the time commitment.

      1. Fantasy sports is the worst, at least I don't have to deal with that. But I'm a huge Yankees fan, and follow the Knicks and Giants, too. The ups and downs are fantastic, I can't say that I don't absolutely love it, but watching 3 hour baseball games 130+ times a season occasionally feels a bit ridiculous (and my wife thinks it's always a bit ridiculous).
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  2. I don't get professional sports. I don't understand why I should care. Whenever someone tries to talk to me about one of the local teams, my eyes gloss over and I space out. It couldn't be less interesting to me.

  3. Well I'm in one Fantasy Football league which I don't really check, but I do it to keep in contact with some old co-workers who have a dinner at the end of the season. But I opted out of the other league because it was time consuming and they raised the buy in to $100. I did fantasy baseball years ago and that seems to take up much more time as there are so many games. At least with football it's just once a week.

  4. Really cool, interesting article. A lot of what you say is true, but my husband has actually pointed out to me another reason why a lot of these people get paid so much: this is all they can do. Take the NFL for example. The average length of an NFL career is six years, which means that most players' careers are over before they're 30. The average salary, depending on position, is around $1 million per year. For many players who have very little in the way of actionable skills outside of football, that means their total potential earnings for their trade is around $6 million LIFETIME. When you consider taxes and the amount most of these players will have to pay in later medical services, surgeries, etc. — none of which is covered by league pension — that's really not all that much. So yeah, we can complain about how much these players get paid, but I kinda think we should be more bothered by how much citizens have to pay for stadiums. To me, that's the crazy part.
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  5. The only sports I watch are the olympics and the marathon. I was a gymnast growing up, I can't imagine how much my parents spent on me, I was at the gym 4 times a week three hours at a time-plus competitions, it was hardcore. I do have to say, that though I wound up going into the arts anyway, sports in my childhood gave me a respect for physical fitness and for regimented practice and discipline that has absolutely been a huge part in shaping my work ethic.

  6. Ben, really like this post, and your thoughtful and funny writing style. Not to overthink the subject, but my own take is that people are attracted to excellence of any kind. Sports has specific metrics, short/medium/long-term, and performance is there for everyone to judge; when the clock stops and the score is final, there is a winner and loser. Past performance is inarguable. Future performance is speculative, and based of variables known and unknown (like Personal Finance). Excellent performers are rewarded with money, status, female attention, awards, and celebrity. People are willing to pay for this entertainment, and while a teacher, EMT, soldier, engineer, etc. may contribute more to the larger society, they and there jobs aren't entertaining. And not to get you started on Congress, but elected officials are far more entertaining outside of their job duties.:-) btw, I came to your site via Financial Samurai, really enjoyed your guest post. Continued success to you, Ben!

    1. Thanks Jay! I appreciate your comments. It's interesting to me that as a society, we live to be entertained. I find it happening myself to myself too. If I read an article online that isn't entertaining as well as informative, I usually skip it and my view is going to go to a more entertaining article. And it's true that members of Congress are entertaining outside of their job duties 🙂 Although it's more in a sad way…

      1. Ben, this may be a different subject worthy of another post, but you have touched on something I have been considering for a long time. The 'society' we have does live to be 'entertained'. And this truth may be indicative of something you may find antithetical. You are a spiritual person, with a world-view embracing yourself as part of a whole. With something larger than each of us individuals, and whatever 'society' we have created and abide by at this snapshot in history. My thought is that we "live to be entertained" in this secular society, because we do not see a greater purpose or meaning to our lives and life itself. Most of us never find it, in spite of our attempts to make momentary passions like sports, pop culture, politics, etc. substitute for real meaning. You may know individuals that become frustrated with the idea of 'faith', too.

        A great book on the subject is holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search For Meaning." I am happy to read about the way you speak of your "wonderful wife". You can tell a lot about somebody by the way they speak on their spouse. Anyway, to love and be loved in return has great meaning, no matter what else may come. Thanks for your response, be well!

        1. VERY interesting thoughts! I imagine that's part of the reason why we live to be entertained. Even for some people who do believe in a higher power and a higher purpose in life, it's just too easy to be content with getting caught up in the day to day trivial pursuits of entertainment, and the greater purpose eventually dissipates. I've been meaning to read "Man's Search For Meaning". I finished "Night" by Elie Wiesel a few months ago, and I lived in Germany for a couple of years, so that greater story hits home to me.

          And I agree about the power of love and being loved in return. It definitely drives me to do things on a much higher level than I would without it. Thanks again for the thoughtful comments!

  7. Unfortunately, I'm a Cubs fan, so I am all too familiar with the heartbreak sports can bring… but since I've cut the cord on cable (and on a lot of the sports cable offers), I've saved a ton of money, can still read about them online, but don't get too caught up in them. It really allows me to spend my time more efficiently. And those traveling teams for kids are just INSANE at how much time and money they require… it's nuts.

  8. I can certainly feel you, Ben. I myself often wondered why the heck the big names in sports are paid so much. Okay, they make great entertainment but that is reason enough for them to enjoy millions of dollars? (Sounding bitter there, am I not?:P )And yet as if that is not enough, there are sports shoes and sports this and that named after them. They get paid for that too?
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