(originally posted 9/2/2013)
I just want to start by saying right off the bat that when I talk about sports I’m not talking about individual activities that we all enjoy participating in every now and again, I’m talking about Sports with a capitol “S.” Sports as in stadiums full of people cheering on groups of men who are being paid millions of dollars a year to throw a ball, kick a ball, or hit a ball with a stick.
I’d also like to start out by bringing to your attention the fact that I slipped in the phrase “right off the bat” in a sentence having to do with sports, so that’s a pretty impressive thing to do right off the bat.
Just want to make sure you didn’t miss it. I know F. Scott Fitzgerald wouldn’t stoop to pointing out when he had turned a particularly witty phrase but I’m the first person to admit I’m no F. Scott Fitzgerald. I would suggest that perhaps having an “F” in front of a writer’s name might help but in my case there are already too many critics who harbor F. Lance Manion sentiments.
I realize that talking about how fucked up Sports are is hardly a novel idea but if I limited myself to writing about novel ideas my next book would have about five stories and that’s only because nobody else seems interested in writing about my masturbation preferences. Perhaps in the future historians will wrestle with that particular bologna but for now I seem to have that topic to myself.
Jerking off aside, I’d still like to throw down a few thoughts about the (not particularly novel) idea that explaining Sports to an alien race would be difficult. If they happened to pop down and ask us what all the ruckus was all about, I honestly think we’d have a hard time rationalizing what was going on.
Even if we were able to explain how currency is our way of valuing various contributions to the whole, I’m not sure we’d be doing anything more than making ourselves look worse. That’s assuming that this alien race wasn’t similar to ants and bees and such, which we would know immediately because they would take one look at some people starving and some people living in mansions and annihilate the lot of us on the spot, and believed in the old fashioned theory of division of labor and risk and reward and to the victor go the spoils and so on and so forth. Even then I wonder if they wouldn’t shake their green bug-eyed head(s) and ask “So tell me again why you care if that guy hits that ball with a stick.”
Perhaps they would think we were hedging our evolutionary bets that we’ll be able to think our way out of the constraints of gravity and feel that just to be safe we should breed a race of hulking humanoids capable of hurling spacecraft out of our atmosphere with a few grunts and one big heave-ho.
I have to believe that they would consider this nonsense and shake their green bug-eyed head(s) in disdain.
So how would you explain it?
If we as a species had overcome all manner of disease and famine you could make the case that we need some sort of distraction before we finish up inventing ways to skip across the universe introducing ourselves to other sentient beings, but that hardly seems the case. In parts of the world people are dying from ailments that we could easily treat with a quick injection… if we saw fit.
But no. There are people making hundreds of millions of dollars because they are good at tackling other people.
What would our alien friends make of that?
Would they cock their head(s) and ask what else they did to warrant such extravagant lifestyles while all around them people suffer? How would we go about explaining that we all contribute our currency to watch them play a game and that’s really all that’s expected of them?
My guess is that they would wonder how we managed to send out the Pioneer spacecrafts in the first place. If you’re unfamiliar with the Pioneer program, my guess is that you’re still wondering what’s wrong with paying athletes millions to throw, kick, or hit a ball with a stick. You’d better run off and check to see if “your team” is winning.
I’m sure that an alien would find that last observation hilarious.
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