are these games really that important??

Good evening friends,

This will be my first pit entry.

Just what is the attraction to these games?

I really do not watch much television, and survivor is pretty low on my list if I were to start, but admittedly it is the highest rated show of most weeks.

Tonight, it was postponed until the Nebraska/Kansas basketball game was over. This game was carried live, beginning at 6:00 p.m. To make matters worse, it was a feed from ESPN. One of the saving graces for ESPN is all sports all the time on a channel I don’t watch.

Years ago there was a Hallmark special presentation. Merchant of Venice, with Sir Laurence Olivir (sp, sorry) as Shylock. This is a masterpiece of literary theater, with possibly the greatest actor of our time in the lead role. I couldn’t wait to see it. Home early, dinner cooked and served, dishes washed and popcorn popped. I sat down to enjoy the show…

In our local market, it was pre-empted by the Iowa class D girls high school basketball semi finals.

Just what is the attraction to these games, anyway? Why are these athletes paid these outrageous sums of money to do something so repetetively boring? My cable system has ESPN and ESPN2 at least, maybe more sports channels. And, while I am at it, just what is up with these stupid beer commercials?

It is like the cultural equivalent of strip mining.


Sorry, I can’t help, but I’ll stand in breathless anticipation for an answer. I gave up TV a couple years ago. May or may not be a good solution.

Not very rant-y, but then again I never post in the Pit either.

Just to clear up one point, in the big sporting event this month, the NCAA tournament, the atheletes aren’t payed outrageous sums of money. They are still, in theory, doing it because they love their sport snicker.

The same was probably true of the Iowa girls basketball game that bumped ‘The Merchant of Venice’ (Something, I as a sports fan and Shakespeare fan, find baffling). Either they were just playing because they love the game, or I really wish I had gone to school in Iowa :slight_smile:

I can’t explain why I like basketball. I can’t sit through a full baseball game. Football is mind-numbing. Hockey? Tennis? GOLF???.

I have never understood the fascination with sports of any kind.

Then again, I also have absolutely no idea why “Survivor” is so successful. My interim explanation is that people are very sneaky creatures that like to fool me by walking upright.

answering the question “why do so many people watch sports” comes down to a few simple things. though there are many types of fans, i.e. the rabid paint-yourself-with-team-colors-and-go-shirtless-in-10-degree-weather fan, the armchair quarterback, etc., they all watch for some of the same basic reasons.
the first is admiration. for example, i kind of wish i could throw a football as far and as accurately as a professional quarterback, or skate as nimbly and gracefully as a professional hockey player manages, all the while dodging opponents and maneuvering a puck. this feeling of admiration of course begs the question, “why would you even want to have the ability to throw a ball or push a piece of rubber while ice skating?”, and that question can be best answered with a question, “why would you want to know how to stitch yarn together into a blanket?” or “why do you really need to know THAT much about african elephants and duck billed platypus’s?” or “why would you want to read hamlet 16 times?”.
another reason is camaraderie. not to digress, but i’ve personally noted that there seems to be no lack of excuses to get drunk in america. st patricks day, cinco de mayo, new years eve, birthdays, weddings, fridays, bar mitzvahs, etc. so getting together with some friends at a bar or in your living room to watch the game and drink a few beers, or just pig out on chicken wings, is a social thing, just another reason to come together.
then there is the actual strategy of the how the game is played. it isn’t just a bunch of sweaty men throwing a ball and hitting each other. there is an actual gameplan and split second decisions made based on events that occur outside of the plan. how is the defense going to line up against their offense, which is known to throw over the middle? their defense is known to stifle the run, how will they get around that?
yet another reason is local team spirit. being around others that are all rooting for the same team, the same names, week after week, pulls you into it. it’s comparable to a high school pep rally, you probably didn’t want to go to it, but the enthusiasm infects you and before you know it you’re right there rooting for the home team. think olympics.
and then of course there is the competition value, some people enjoy a good competition, regardless of the sport or the players. again, think olympics.
and lastly (at least as far as i can think of) is the gambling aspect. any time there is an unknown ending, you can bet (haha) that someone somewhere is holding an office pool or taking a chance with this months rent.

now, as for why the athletes make so much money, that is a matter of commercial politics. they make it because we pay for it. i’m no historical expert on sports by a long shot, but i’d imagine it all started when one team had one player that was just that much better than the others at what he did, and his team didn’t want to lose him, so they offered him more money to stay with them rather than go to another team. then came along the next best thing on another team and the other teams wooed him with higher paying contracts and perks. so on and so forth.
eventually, big business noticed how many people were tuned in watching sporting events and realized that they could reach tons and tons of people, particularly their target audience (18-36 year olds). enter larger and larger bids for commercial air time and bidding wars between the television stations for airing rights.
all of a sudden it was huge business pulling in untold billions of dollars.
i tend to agree with you about it being culturally comparable to strip mining, but the money is where the audience is. 10 times out of 10 the tv station will choose a sporting event that’s gone into overtime rather than laurence olivier in merchant of venice because they are reaching more people with their beer commercials (etc)during the game.

if i recall, there was mention about why so many people watch “survivor”. for that i think you have to look no further than a mall, or a park. people love people. ever sit on a bench and watch others? i guess there is a little bit of a psychoanalyst within all of us. watching the couple quietly argue in public, intuiting circumstances about their situation; recalling a pleasant time of your childhood as the family of four stroll by, children without a care in the world.
though i am not one of the many that do watch any of the so called “reality shows”, i can see some of the attraction from basic curiosity. everyone wonders what goes on behind closed doors. everyone wants someone to compare themselves to, to see if they are the only ones that feel that particular way or see things that specific way. that’s just human nature.
imho, there are better ways of doing these things, but the networks have tapped into societies desire for approval from its peers, and that need is drawing them to the shows.
well, that or they need a good laugh :stuck_out_tongue:

Maybe the station thought they could attract more veiwers with a girls basketball game than with ‘Merchant of Venice’?
The game was live, and this was the one and only chance of seeing it. You could probably rent ‘Merchant of Venice’.

The station will broadcast what it feels will attract the most veiwers. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it has no value.

Why should a 1 time only event take precedence over a program that could be broadcast any number of times? Because it’s a 1 time only event. I, personally, would rather see a spring traing baseball game than anything else on TV. ST games just make me feel good.

People who cannot play sport, watch it. People who play it watch it because they are interested in watching the most talented experts in their field. Do you have a hobby? Do you try to find out as much as you can about it. You like to watch Shakespere, other people like to watch sports. Neither can really be criticised here. Plus, if the game went to extra time, and they cut the coverage, how annoying would that be? A bit like cutting out the dramatic climax to a piece of theatre.

Also, if you think about it, and don’t get too intellectually arrogant about it, sport is theatre, except in sport you don’t know what’s going to happen. You know what should, on paper, happen, but life isn’t like that. Therein lies the entertainment.


March Madness…Catch It!

You’ve hit the nail on the head. These “why do people like sports” threads pop up periodically on this board and there tends to be an attitude of intellectual arrogance about them. The typical progression includes posters who want to make sure you know how much they read, then moves into a plea to pay poets as much as athletes.

I would enjoy watching the Merchant of Venice, but I also enjoy watching sports. Even ancient society admired its athletes. Just as I am fascinated by geniuses, I am also fascinated by people who display such amazing physical control and skill. I don’t know why their skill is considered less “valid” by “cultured people”. You can gripe about how much they are paid, but they’re paid that much because a lot of people like watching them do what they do.

There are other reasons why sports are popular, too. People enjoy the competitive aspect, the drama of an unknown outcome, and many like to identify with a group that represents their town.

There is nothing wrong with liking sports. It’s not weird or inexplicable.

I got addicted to the first Survivor, but I just haven’t been able to get into the second season. The novelty has kind of worn off for me. My personal TV addiction is The Sopranos; now that Tony, Carmela, Christopher, Paulie, and Meadow (mmmmm, Meadow) are back, all is right with the world again.

As for sports, I love football, like golf, baseball, NASCAR, and basketball, and have no opinion about hockey, soccer, tennis, etc. I suppose I could explain my love for football with a description of it as a savage but graceful metaphor for war, etc., but I’d just be talking out of my ass. I like it, some people don’t. Different strokes, I guess.

good afternoon friends,

I would like to thank all of you who have posted to this thread.

I understand that I am in the minority here. My only excuse is my existence as a non-sports fan in the college football capitol of the world.

I should try to look at it from a sports fan’s perspective. I am sure many more people want to watch these games than not.

I agree with all the comments. I not going to answer your specific question, but I think you should view the situations that you describe to as a good thing.

Iowans, in general, are basketball fanatics. (Just go to a mall and you can can’t help but notice the sea of Hawkeye jackets.) The fact that the television stations were willing to show the Girls HS Class D semi-finals (in addition to the boys finals) was probably avant-garde at that time. I’m sure that these broadcasts made a lot of parents, grand-parents and local townsfolk happy. Plus, you could be assured of competent basketball and perhaps a cinderella story. As we turn on the TV today and see a girls game on one channel and a guys game on another, we may forget that it was not always so. Some younger girls may have found enough excitement in watching these games with their relatives to go out for the HS team, thus ensuring that there are enough good females for the professinal teams today.

Secondly, perhaps this problem has changed over time. Now anything that is pre-empted can be seen again. That Hallmark presentation sounds like it was a one-time thing, then. Now it would be shown 4-20 times on the same channel over a week’s period. And, for one-time event, like Survivor, progammers are less likley to pre-empt. So, things are better, now.

Hard to say. Most sports are essentially civilized warfare, so perhaps it appeals to the supressed hostility and aggression inherent in human society.

Some sports, like golf and basketball, are extentions of hunting (putting an object into a small hole from a distance is analagous to shooting a deer with a weapon) so perhaps there is a survival aspect. The best hunter in the prehistoric clan gives the best survival advantage to the clan as a whole, and perhaps that’s carried over to the world of modern sports.

I can’t fathom why “Survivor” is so popular. Watching people eat rats and monkeys is NOT my idea of entertainment. Now, “The Mole” or “Eco-Challenge”, that is what I call good Reality Games…

BTW…why the fuck is this in The Pit?


I disagree. Warfare is just barabaric sport.

Is your glass half empty, my friend?

I watch football because I admire the skills, conditioning, training, and talent needed to be a good player. I read
“The Classics” because of the skills, conditioning, training, and talent need to be a good writer. I listen to the Beatles because of the skills, conditioning, training, and talent they have (or had.)
That’s the simple answer.

good morning, friends

friend zoff writes:

Intellectual arrogance is not my intent. Sports, and sports fans have always baffled me. I do question the validity of a local channel pre-empting the network for sporting events. Put the shoe on the other foot: imagine the final game of the “Final Four” tournament being pre-empted by a live presentation of your local high school drama department doing “The Pajama Game”

So, Dennis Rodman was really a genius and not a circus act?

Maybe not weird, but to my thinking, still inexplicable. ;o)

Good morning again.

Here in the heartland, where football is king, we had a choice. Our third district congressional representative was returning to the private sector. Our third district is mainly agricultural, and has mainly small rural communities.

The man favored to replace the outgoing congressman was raised in the district. From the family farm he went to the university and got a degree in agricultural science, and went on to spend many years working in farm related services. For the last few years he has been working for the state agricultural board. This is a man well versed in the culture of his proposed constituency. It seemed he would win in a walk. The challenge from the opposing party was just a token with virtually no chance to win.

The coach of the university football team had retired after last season. He had a vacation home on a lake in the third district, and long ago, had been born there. He announced his candidacy for the third district seat. He did very little campaigning. No debates and very few speeches. He won the primary with more than 75% of the vote, and won the election with (iirc) 79% of the votes cast.

I gues Mr. Lincoln was right: “you can fool all of the people some of the time…”

I wasn’t necessarily referring to you. But, believe me, past sports threads have quickly become posting grounds for that type of arrogance.

He is an extremely talented, but extremely fucked up guy. Sort of like, say, Ernest Hemingway or Edgar Allen Poe or any number of artists who have gone mad, died from alcohol or drugs or killed themselves.

I’m not saying that his talent excuses kicking a photographer in the pills. But he managed to be the top rebounder in a league full of the best basketball players in the world. That’s talent.

To put it succinctly, the games are important to a lot of people. And I’ll be honest, I’m a major sports fan. But it does bother me when I hear of athletes getting preferential treatment (longhair’s congressman story reminded me of it). But anyway, as I said I’m a sports fan myself, and it still annoys me when a TV show I like is pre-empted for a sporting event.

Yes, but you’re talking about Nebraska here.

In Nebraska:

Tom Osborne = Jesus
(and Bob Devaney = God)

If Tom Osborne can lead the Huskers to victory, then by golly he can do the same for Nebraska! Go Big Red! :rolleyes:

(What – you expect rational thinking from the voting populace? Have you looked at the sort of people who get elected?)

As for rabid sports fans, let us not discount the “glory by association” element of it:

  • I support Team X.
  • When Team X wins, I am a winner too (and smart too, for picking the right team to support).
  • Furthermore, as a supporter of Team X, I am better than those people who support those other teams that Team X has beaten, and am completely justified in lording it over them.
  • If Team X gets beaten, it is obviously the fault of 1) that biased referee; 2) that idiot coach; or 3) that crap player, and if I’d been in charge that would never have happened, so it’s not my fault and no reflection on me.
  • If you don’t support Team X, you’re obviously a lower form of life and I am justified in pounding the living daylights out of you.

Any questions?