Sports: the Subtle Psychosis


I peered in the window of a headstone cutters shop and gazed at the stone angel; This image was just what I needed to distract me from the normalcy of  Saturday night in the Gas Light, a purportedly haunted bar on the south side of Sleepytown. Having been in the Gas Light a number of times now I cannot say I’ve witnessed any ghosts or phantoms, however I will admit that the place is peculiar. The acoustics play with sound in the bar/restaurant. You can be sitting in one section of the building, up front where music is being performed, and hear someone from the back room at the pool table clear as a bell. If you move from your location the audible anomaly stops; this isn’t exactly what I would call spooky, just odd-especially when you’re numbed with high octane weed.
I left the sidewalk in front of the stonecutters shop and went back into the Gas Light. My friends were playing music up on stage and putting on a hell of a show for the crowd. I was thankful a stranger I met there offered to pass the joint outside so our small group of four got lit up and then stumbled back inside. The pool table was surrounded by players and observers, the band was playing away and at that moment my eyes honed in on the two large screened televisions above the bar. One was playing the Louisville vs. Virginia college basketball game; the other screen had MMA fighting. I was pulled in by both events as my eyes ping-ponged from one event to the other. The Louisville team was my favorite (if I had to call one) but I had to marvel at the showmanship of the mixed martial arts fighters; One fighter with dreads touted a pair of angel wings that ran the entire length of his back…another angel reference for me to ponder on. I wasn’t buying into the synchronicity of what I had witnessed which is why I refused to put any kind of bet down. Good thing too because angel wings lost that bout.
I stayed and watched another fight involving a wiry looking Scottish berserker and some thick statuesque man-the berserker slowly devoured and won the match. The ballgames kept going and the evening played on. My friends ended their gig for the evening and I had myself dropped off at my favored drinking hole for my own round of pool. As much time as I spend there it has trained me to the ways of that particular table so my win/lose ratio ends up pretty high on the win end. After I closed the bar down and started walking home I pondered about the significance of sports and what role they play for so many of us. Our high schools and universities rake in obscene amounts of money to support their athletic programs by comparison to academics. We allow sports stadiums in our towns and shower them with incentives and tax breaks. We pay exorbitant amounts for food and silly frills and banners to go watch a team live, or gather by television sets with friends and munch on fatty foods and drink beer. I wondered if entertainment was the only reason we do this. I feel there must be more, a deeper connection to sports but I cant say precisely what it must be. We pit our local teams against the world and wear their colors like a Tartan pattern of a Scottish clan. We will say the nastiest things of our opponents in the name of the game. We will gather to see cars crash and fighters bludgeoned and covered with blood, all for the sake of entertainment? There has to be more.
I would like to make some grand connection with the angel I saw and say it visited me in a dream that night and gave me the answers I sought, but that didn’t happen. However I did wake up and thought about this some more and concluded that we need to have sports in our society to curb the amount of people who would go on a killing spree without them. Sports are the one area where there is a possibility of attaching yourself to something that wins, something that overcomes the ills of our nation that make us want to give up. With sports, you can call yourself a winner for a moment, even when you don’t actually participate in a game. ‘My team won’ makes people smile to say and if you sink that impossible shot on the eight ball to take the game, your victory lets you shine. Sports are subtle delusions which make us feel like winners when we pick the right team or help win the game. Victorious MMA fighters charge off screaming with euphoria, arms raised in the air, war cry belching from their mouths as they strut in a circle in front of their fans, but that same fighter still faces the day to day issues you and I do. That fighters still got bills to pay and crooked politicians deeming law on him. NFL players shine on the big screen with dazzling graphics and paid endorsement contracts, but a lot of them still end up broke and broken. I’ve heard all my life that sports build character but I guess I always never looked into how they build that character. Between our chores we all play games and that seems to help make the world go around.   


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