Sports = Meaningless?

May 5, 2010

I’ve gotten into this argument with several people (strawmen) before.  I’ll be watching a Penguins game, getting worked up, yelling at the TV and generally acting like a psychopath.  They’ll say, “Why are you so into this?  It’s just a game.  Sports are pretty much meaningless in the grand scheme of things.”

I have two problems with this: 1) In the grand scheme of things, everything is meaningless.  So let’s focus on the details, because honestly, it’s all we have.  2) Something can only be meaningless if no one finds anything worthwhile in it.

If something is meaningless, we wouldn’t compensate the purveyors of such supposed drivel.  Tiger Woods is the first billion dollar athlete.  There’s a reason for that.  There is an entire micro-economy that revolves specifically around his performance.  Thousands of people’s jobs indirectly depend on him playing and playing well.  When he disappears from the scene, people don’t buy as much golf stuff and this hurts everyone from hourly retail associates, territory sales representatives, even manufacturing workers in other countries.  He has earned every single penny of that money.

If something is meaningless it wouldn’t have a direct impact on personality traits.  On average, 10% of people are left-handed. But the researchers found this rate varied between countries; an average 13% of Canadians were left-handed and just 2.5% of Mexicans.  These facts are paraphrased from some British journal of medicine.  I’ll send you the link if you’re desperate to fact check, you skeptical bastards. Canadians are significantly more left-handed then other nationalities.  Interestingly, about 65% of hockey players are left-handed.  So where’s the connection?  Somewhere along the line it was discovered that being a lefty-shot in hockey leads you to be a better player, whether it’s the way the equipment is arranged or the way the game is played.  Now I don’t know if it’s the chicken or the egg, but it’s entirely possible that Canadian women find good hockey players sexually desirable and want to procreate with them.  Left-handedness is also loosely linked to the genetics of the parents.  So more Southpaw’s making more Southpaw babies increased Canada’s national average of left-handedness.  Probably.

If something is meaningless, then we wouldn’t our devotion to it to be the last thing anyone remembers about us.  About two or three years ago, a comedian named Sean Currey died of a heart attack.  All the other comics in Pittsburgh drove out to Washington, PA to go pay our respects.  We went into the parlor to say a prayer for Sean and there he was laid out with a #55 Joey Porter football jersey on.  This is the garment that Sean wanted to be buried in.  When he got to heaven he wanted to walk up to St. Peter at the Pearly Gates grab the front of his jersey between his thumb and forefinger hold it up to that graceful white light and say, “I’m Sean Currey and I’m a Pittsburgh Steelers fan!”

So don’t tell me sports are meaningless.  It’s entertainment.  And without entertainment, this life would truly be meaningless…in the grand scheme of things.

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