How ’bout them Cowboys!
Brace yourself, because if you’re the average American this is going to offend you. We have watched organized sports become more and more popular over the last hundred years; first Basketball, then Baseball, Football, the WWF, ultimate fighting, etc. Did you ever wonder why? Did you ever wonder why so many people – perhaps you, yourself – are practically obsessed with sports? And why they are constantly getting more and more violent?
You may have assumed that it was merely a trend, something that falls into favor and out of favor with passing decades, but there is more to it; there is a psychological reason why professional spectator sports are worth literally billions of dollars today. But you’re probably not going to like it…
Man is basically selfish; we are concerned primarily with ourselves, and to some lesser extent with our “empirical self”, that is, our family and friends. He is not “basically good”, he is “basically selfish” – or as the Bible calls it, “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9).
Society however, has ways in which it controls these selfish impulses – or at least channels them in to socially acceptable ways. Laws for instance, forbid my killing you to take your money. My selfish impulse – to take your stuff – is prevented from expressing itself by society. Likewise I can’t run you off the road in my car just because I find your driving offensive – society prevents that. I am not permitted to be my selfish self outwardly, for the most part. But inwardly… that’s another story.
When you slap me, my natural instinct is to slap you back – and maybe a bit harder. When you steal from me, I want to steal back from you – plus a little extra so I’ll “come out ahead”. Society forbids this, to a certain extent at least – if you steal from me, then I should report you to the Police and let them recover my property.
This would be all well and good in a righteous society. If you stole from me, I am guaranteed justice; I will get my money back. And if you can’t pay me, then you will be my slave for up to seven years (Exodus 22:3). If a drunk driver kills my wife, then he will die to pay for it (Exodus 21:23-25). If your vicious dog, which you’ve been warned about, attacks and kills my child, then your life goes to pay for his (Exodus 21:28-31).
All this is justice under a righteous system that God, Himself designed. Each of those will satisfy the person who was wronged. They are harsh, yes; but my wife being killed by an irresponsible drunk driver is harsh, and she was innocent; but he was at fault. Should his punishment be less than his crime?
Or your dog which you selfishly defended, knowing it was vicious … is it not your fault if my child is killed for your selfishness? Are not the scales of justice violated if he, the innocent, pays a higher price than you?
Now consider the comparison for each of those incidents, with what would probably happen in our society; a drunk driver kills my wife. Her life is ended, mine will never be the same again; he would probably serve a few years for involuntary manslaughter, maybe have his drivers license revoked for awhile for DWI, then move on with his life; perhaps to feel guilty occasionally, but more often than not to continue and commit more offenses and drink and drive again.
Most of us have seen this system in action; this is not justice. The people who are wronged by this system, the victims, are never the same. They are not allowed to take justice into their own hands and exact life for life – and so they are trapped. Knowing they suffered injustice, and yet unable to balance the scales of justice.
If your dog kills my child, the dog would probably be killed. You might serve some jail time, then again you might not. And the innocent – the people who were not responsible for it – would be paying with their life (the child) and their lives never again being the same (the parents). After a few years at worst, you are back to raising violent dogs again; how is that Justice?
If you steal from me, IF you are caught, in most cases my money is never recovered. The state appropriates the funds recovered and you’re left with nothing, except MAYBE this man locked in a cell for a few years. And not only that, but the victims pay taxes in order to pay for the man’s incarceration which costs society an average of over $30,000 a year – so they are penalized even more than they already have been, just for the horrendous crime of being robbed!
But I don’t need to tell you that this society is unjust; we cannot expect to receive justice at the hands of the legal system. But that’s actually my point… and why sports are so popular. You see, when someone is wronged – and you have been, at one time or another, by someone – and is unable to see justice, what happens to them? How does their mind handle it?
Some of us pretend it never happened, and bottle it up; some seek revenge by doing the same thing to someone else; others just vent on anyone and everyone who will listen. But all of us seek Justice. All of us are wanting that person who hurt us to be hurt in the same way as we were hurt. And so when we see someone getting “what’s coming to them”, it pleases us – on a subconscious level it encourages us that perhaps there is justice in the universe after all.
A good test for this particular thing is how much you enjoyed the movies “the Patriot”, “Payback”, “Rambo”, “Gladiator”; all these movies feature a theme of revenge. Of a man getting justice at the point of a gun, sword or hatchet, when the system has failed him. If these movies appeal to you, it is because you also desire that justice.
Now that isn’t necessarily a bad thing… but those movies would have no place in a right society because in a properly designed legal system, as God set it up, there would BE justice. We would receive a fair trial and a fair restitution would be made – to the VICTIMS – by murderers and thieves.
This nation was in the beginning set up with a pretty sound legal system; men were innocent until proven guilty. Capital punishment was regularly enforced for the worst criminals. Men could see justice and payback for the wrongs others had done them. But as the legal system grew more complex and the nation drifted farther from God around the turn of the century, justice became harder to come by.
Baseball was invented a form recognizable today in the early 1800s; it was played in back yards and vacant lots for many years, and primarily was not a spectator sport, but a participator sport. And this was a good way for boys to let off steam and excess energy. Then in the late 1800s Basketball was invented and soon picked up a large popularity because it could be played indoors which was important in winter, particularly where most colleges were located in the northern states.
Both Basketball and Baseball were originally much less violent. Football had also been invented in the 1800’s, or at least had evolved then from earlier Rugby roots in England, but wasn’t widely popular because of the violence of the sport, the less violent Baseball and Basketball being considered more fun by most people.
However, as justice departed from our land it left behind resentment; resentment over the wrongs that were no longer dealt with as they had been before; the injustice grew exponentially after the 1930s to the sad state of affairs we find ourselves in today, where if I break into your house to steal from you and hurt myself, I can sue YOU – and win!
And as the justice left, a desire for more and more violent sports, TV shows, and music replaced it. For naturally being sued by a thief who was stealing from me (much LESS being forced to pay HIM a settlement!) would make me very unhappy – and having no legal recourse to get justice, I would be angry and frustrated – and left wanting to exact justice vicariously by seeing violence done to someone else. And so I would enjoy more violent sports.
And so the NFL was born, later the WWF, and now Ultimate Fighting and every other violent sport we can dream up – but still there is some limited justice in this nation. And as long as it persists, we will not need the Roman Arena to get our “fix”, and to satiate our bloodlust we won’t need to see Christians thrown to the Lions… but that is not too many steps down the road.
The bottom line is that Man’s subconscious must have a way of dealing with repressed feelings of anger and resentment at injustice; as they are more and more civilized and prevented from having justice, they require more and more violent ways of letting off steam; as justice diminishes and laws increase, sports progressed from baseball to basketball to football to WWF and ultimately will progress to the Roman Arena, if allowed to continue that long.
And my conclusion? Sports are popular, and of ever-increasing violence, because they give us satisfaction. They, like violent movies, provide an arena for our subconscious to vicariously play out our desire to beat up our boss. Or to somehow fulfill our desire to see the guy next door (who lets his dog bark 24 hours a day for no reason, for years on end) hacked to bits with an ax. Because we realize that we will not have justice in this world.
These things will never give us peace, but they will provide us with a release to keep most of us from going insane. God’s way, of course, is to confront people who sin against you – rebuke them – and deal with your issues. The world’s way – Satan’s way – is to sweep it under the rug and pretend it never happened.
Satan’s way allows people who are too gutless to confront people and tell them they are wrong a typically Satanesque way to deal with their emotions. A way that isn’t right, but which will let people who are moral cowards (if not literal ones) a way to vent their excess steam.
God’s way of confrontation and then resolution will provide you with closure – and therefore, peace. It allows you to relax and move on with your life, because you have confronted your demons. Satan’s way of cowardice bottles it up inside, where it must come out one day – through movies like “The Punisher”, through the Roman Arena, through Hockey, through War, through beating up your wife – SOMEHOW it must come out eventually.
And so if, after all this somehow you’re not already offended, this last paragraph should do it:
If you love violent action movies and professional sports it can only be because you have emotional issues, deep-seated resentment you need to identify and solve. Then, if you do, you won’t love to see people having chairs broken over their heads, being beat up, shot, or tossed over cliffs – because you’ll have found peace.