Sports are dumb.
There. I’ve said it. I’ve said it before, countless times, year after year. I’ve said it on the internet—just recently, actually. And I’m sure that the opportunity will present itself for me to say it again.
It’s a hot take, but I have a lot of those. You may recall that I have been called ‘disturbing and mean,’ so a short and blunt statement like this, with no follow through as to why I feel that way, should not be very surprising
Sports are dumb.
I’ve tried with sports. Not as an adult—no; that ship has sailed, and sunk once it got far enough away from the shore. I’m in my mid-30s and there is absolutely no way I’m just suddenly, one day, going to wake up and decide to get ‘really into’ a specific sport1 and team, and glom onto them for the season.
I tried with sports when I was a kid. Because that’s what you are supposed to do, right? You’re young, and you don’t realize sports are dumb because you are so dumb. You just wind up playing them despite the fact that you know, deep down, you have literally no interest in them.
I am originally from Illinois—born in the early 1980s, growing up in the shadow of both the Chicago Bears 1986 Superbowl win, as well as the unprecedented run of the Chicago Bulls, winning two ‘three-peat’ championships.
To my knowledge, my mother is still a ride or die Chicago Bears fan, and growing up, I can recall my father plunking down in front of the television every Sunday, all day long, watching football game after football game.
I collected basketball, football, and baseball cards. I remember the pink dust from the stick of stale chewing gum coating the cards in a pack of Topps baseball cards during the summer of 1990. Where are these cards now? Probably in a landfill somewhere, slowly decomposing. Why did I feel compelled to collect them? I have no idea.
Sports are dumb.
As a kid, maybe around eight years old, I glommed onto the Miami Dolphins—I couldn’t even begin to tell you why. I still have a hideous and old green and orange Dolphins blanket in our guest room closet.
I think about how I, for some reason, needed a Chris Webber basketball jersey during the summer of 1994. Number 4 for the Golden State Warriors, it was purchased with my birthday money that year, and I wore it with a t-shirt underneath since I was such a fashionable young man.
When I went into 7th grade, I had a Florida Marlins Starter jacket; I remember the clerk at JC Penny telling my mother that kids were getting killed over those things. Two years later, I got a Chicago Blackhawks Starter jacket—again, I couldn’t even begin to tell you why I wanted either of these.
When I was very young, probably around six years old, I was placed in a summer T-Ball league. Two summers later, it was a short basketball camp. Then there was the evening indoor soccer camp during the winter. There were the short games of catch with baseballs and footballs with my father in the backyard of the house I grew up in; there was the basketball hoop in the driveway and the bin full of commemorative NCAA basketballs from Pizza Hut in the garage.
I remember how mortifying and awful nearly every year of gym class physical education2 was; how overweight and out of shape I was through all of junior high and high school.
I think of that quote from a very old episode of “Arrested Development,” where the character of Buster Bluth confronts his father about why he was never allowed to join organized sports. His father, George Sr. explains that Buster was “just a turd out there.” “You couldn’t kick, and you couldn’t run,” he says. “You were just….a turd.”
I think about how small the high school I went to was—there was, like, barely over 20 people in my graduating class. The school lived and breathed its athletics program though; almost all of the boys, in every grade, played every sport. I played none of them, and that was problematic for, like, everyone. Problematic for me because it drew a lot of unnecessary attention to me and I just wanted to be as unnoticed as one could in a school that small; problematic for the other boys in my school, since that meant I was “gay.” So very gay. “YOU’RE GAY!,” I was reminded, over and over again.
Sports are dumb, but something is happening in sports right now. Sports are sportsing. The local team is doing very well—better than expected, and if the fates allow, they may make it to ‘the big game.’
My social media feeds have been overtaken with updates that are simply the celebratory chant of “Skol!,” to which I responded by sharing an image of Skoal chewing tobacco canister and asking if I was ‘doing this right.’
Sports are dumb, and I would almost say that I can’t imagine caring about something the way people seem to be caring about the Minnesota Vikings (or just sports in general) right now—but I’d have to stop short, because I realize that that isn’t true.
I realize that despite my anhedonic, nihilistic persona, I did (and do) care about something the way people care about sports—and that was the third season of “Twin Peaks.” I cared enough about it to have paid for a Showtime subscription for 18 weeks; my wife and I cared enough about the “Twin Peaks” mythology and mystique as a whole to take a “Twin Peaks” tour outside of Seattle; we care enough about watching behind the scenes footage from the show—features that are excusive to the Blu-Ray edition—to have bought both a fancy new television and a Blu-Ray player3 in order to see them.
So in a sense, I get it. But I also don’t get it—because sports are dumb, and for me, caring about something this much is
incredibly exhausting and at times I cannot fathom being able to keep up that level of enthusiasm. I can’t imagine yelling at my television as someone runs toward the end zone or as a ball is intercepted, though to someone who love sports—to someone who has the current Facebook status of “Skol!,” they may not understand why I sat, mouth open and hand covering it in shock, as I watched the final, horrific moments of the 18th hour of “Twin Peaks.”
I think sports are incredibly boring. I mean, a professional baseball game is, like, what—six hours at the very least? It’s an all day thing though, right? The concept of watching an athletic event unfold in front of me, whether in person or on television, is just not very engaging. There’s a lot of starting and stopping and pausing for commercial breaks for the folks at home and whistle blowing and confusion over if someone was in bounds or out of bounds and oh man why, oh why, is this taking so long?
I don’t understand how sports and teams are the one thing where you, as a fan, are some how allowed to include yourself in their exploits—their trials, tribulations, their victories, their defeats. Everything becomes a kind of ‘royal we’—we did this, we did that. And like, again, I guess I get it. But I also don’t get it. You didn’t really do anything. You sat in your armchair and yelled at the television. An overpaid professional athlete did a majority of the work. More often than not, your favorite sports team is more than likely the team based out of the closest metropolitan area to you. So you, for some reason, feel some kind of sense of ownership of them. But are they representative of the people? Do they really represent you?
I don’t really get to claim any ownership or include myself on the successes of a band I like, or while reading a book I’m enjoying. When I put on OK Computer, and “Let Down” begins, I don’t blurt out, “Yeah Jonny Greenwood! We sure nailed that emotional resonance in the song’s intro.” When I’m reading The Book of Disquiet, and come across something both hilarious and depressing, I don’t smile and shout, “Oh shit Fernando Pessoa! You crazy for this one! We sure found the best way to convey the utter meaninglessness of existence.”
Sports are dumb. But if you can sustain that kind of excitement and enthusiasm for that long, I don’t understand, but I guess it’s commendable. I don’t know how anyone can remain that optimistic and hopeful. I mean, I still care about “Twin Peaks,” or the new record from my favorite band, but at the end of the day, I understand that nothing really matters. We all die alone. But if cheering for your team as they do well keeps those thoughts at bay, then I get it. But I don’t get it.
And besides, there’s always next season.
Post Script—Justin Timberlake Eat Shit
While I choose to ignore a lot about professional sports, I am aware that the Superbowl is going to be in Minneapolis at the recently completed US Bank Stadium, home to ‘your’ Minnesota Vikings. And I understand that, if the Vikings win this weekend, they are playing in a Superbowl at their own stadium, which is something that has, like, never happened before. So that’s all fine and well and good for sports fans out there, and I imagine that trying to get anywhere in the Twin Cities area leading up to that weekend is going to be insufferable.
But here’s the thing—no matter who winds up playing in the Superbowl, that isn’t going to change the fact that pop star Justin Timberlake is the halftime entertainment. And that doesn’t change the fact that Justin Timberlake can eat shit.
Justin Timberlake performed with Janet Jackson at the 2004 Superbowl, where Jackson had her now infamous and controversial ‘wardrobe malfunction’ thanks to the provocative choreography of the song she was singing at the time with Timberlake. Over the last decade plus, Timberlake’s career has flourished—he’s released successful records (and is on the cusp of releasing yet another one)4 and has starred in numerous feature films.
I would argue, however, that Jackson’s career has not flourished in the last decade. And that when someone mentions Janet Jackson, rather than her amazing run of albums in the late 1980s and well into the 1990s, the thing that has become synonymous with her name is her ill fated halftime show.
Why has this been allowed to happen?
Justin Timberlake can eat shit. He starred in a fucking Woody Allen movie, then had the audacity to share a photo of himself wearing all black and sporting a ‘Time’s Up’ pin to the Golden Globes. If anything, his halftime show should be a lengthy apology to women in general, to Janet Jackson, and then an N’SYNC reunion where they perform “Gone,” because that song slays.
1– For what it’s worth, if there is one professional sport I can stand to watch, it’s basketball. It moves a lot faster than other sports, and there’s something really comforting about the sound of sneakers squeaking across the hardwood floor.
2– I had this awful teacher in high school who became livid when we called it ‘gym class.’ He insisted that we refer to it as ‘physical education,’ a class that was held in ‘the gym.’ It’s hilarious to think about someone getting that upset over something that means so little.
3– The process of buying a new television and getting a Blu-Ray player became a minor ordeal, and may possibly wind up in a future column.
4– My favorite internet joke w/r/t Timberlake’s new album are simply the people sharing the promotional photos from it with the caption, ‘Listens to Bon Iver once.’
Kevin Krein has been operating the award winning music blog, Anhedonic Headphones, since 2013, and he contributed the back page column to the Southern Minn Scene magazine for roughly three years. His writing has appeared on Bearded Gentlemen Music, Spectrum Culture, and in River Valley Woman. His presence on Twitter, much like his writing, is ‘disturbing and mean,’ as well as ‘irritatingly ambiguous’: @KevEFly.
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