Are you watching the Olympics? Chanting “U-S-A, U-S-A,” as the ideals of sports unify our nation and the world?
Sports have become depressing. Everywhere I look, I see scandal, controversy, bad attitudes, and other reasons for disillusion.
In the Olympics, I cannot watch women’s gymnastics without thinking of the child sexual abuse on the part of coaches, trainers, and staff that went on for decades. The men’s basketball team is loaded up with NBA stars, but they are not only losing but whining. Some American medal winners are taking a knee at the award ceremonies in protest of the flag and the national anthem. Nobody is in the stands to cheer, due to COVID fears. Some players openly acknowledge that they are competing for themselves rather than for their country.
Not that all of our Olympic athletes are like that. And the individual sports can still be involving. I did watch the canoeing competition–involving impossible-seeming maneuvers plunging through a man-made rapids–with great interest. But the Olympics just don’t feel the same as previous years.
It isn’t just the Olympics. All of the teams I follow are dragging down my mood.
The Packers have been feuding with their MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers, for reasons I don’t fully understand. They have worked out a deal to keep him on the team for one more year, but then he’ll be gone.
The Thunder traded off their stars to go into “rebuilding” mode, but, to the management’s shock, the young players who were left actually had a better record deep into the first half of the season than they had the previous year when Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul were on the roster. So the good players were sat down on various pretexts so that the team would lose, in hopes of getting a high draft pick and maybe winning the draft lottery (which didn’t happen). So the system creates an incentive for a team to purposefully lose!
A few years ago, I started following the Houston Astros, exulting in their 2017 World Series win. But now we know that they cheated, and that pall still hangs over the team.
I am following, at a great distance, Australian League Football, but the team my family barracks for, the Collingwood Magpies, are near the bottom of the ladder.
Now the Oklahoma Sooners, along with their arch-rival Texas, are pulling out of the Big Twelve to join the Southeastern Conference. Okay, I admit that I’m excited at the prospect of OU going up against Alabama, Georgia, Auburn, LSU, etc., in the nation’s top football conference. But I do so with a bad conscience, not only because the motive is money and because the departure of the two biggest draws will mean the remaining teams in the Big 12 will take a big financial hit. The move, to me, is emblematic of a larger problem in college sports.
I do agree that athletes should be entitled to compensation when advertisers, video games, and other businesses use their Name, Image, or Likeness. But what that means is that the most prominent teams–such as those in the SEC, including the Sooners–will be able to dangle the prospect of great wealth to the high schoolers they are trying to recruit, giving them an advantage over less well-known programs. This level of professionalization of college sports–which has already gone way too far, in my opinion as a college educator–will just make things worse. The “student athlete” competing as a representative of his school is already an endangered species, and will soon, I fear, become extinct.
I know, I know, if the Packers or the Sooners get in a race for the championship, my interest might come back. But still. . . .Right now, I am finding sports depressing.
Am I the only one who feels this way?