Thursday, March 29, 2012
War and Basketball
I ponder a lot of weird things. One odd subject on my mind lately is the role of sports as they relate to war and peace. When players and coaches speak about their sport, they use the language of warfare. They talk about fighting, going into battle, being in the trenches with their brothers. The higher the stakes, the more team-oriented the sport, the more you hear those terms. As fans, we go to war too. We wear our colors, paint our faces, cheer as one, shout threats at opponents and referees. Our shared love for the team binds us to people with whom we have nothing else in common. We are loyal and passionate, and when our team is victorious, we're joyful.
What I wonder is, if we were seriously at war and had a real enemy to band together and fight, would we be so invested in sports? I'd like to see a study about, like, soccer in England during WWII. I have a hypothesis that, just as humans were built to worship, we were also built to fight and root for something. We have an innate need to overcome conflict, preferably as a group. So if there's no obvious, unifying enemy to defeat together, we'll invent one. (As Christians, we do have a war to wage, but I'm talking in generalities. I prefer to avoid Jesus Jukes.) I think it's interesting that sports have come to satisfy this need in our souls.
Of course, sports are also just plain fun – I'm not saying we need to eliminate them and focus on more important things. I'm just intrigued by this topic. If you don't like it, blame the combination of the NCAA tournament and the Hunger Games movie. Then again, Suzanne Collins was inspired to write The Hunger Games by the convergence of two semi-unrelated subjects (reality shows and the coverage of the invasion of Iraq), so maybe I'm on to something. ;)