By Nathan Barton
Although not particularly interesting to me personally, I have watched from the sidelines (pun intended) this entire brouhaha concerning kneeling instead of standing for the national anthem before sports events, especially football games.
It seems an incredibly stupid thing, in every aspect. It does not make sense. But then, so many things in our society, our world, the Fifty States, do not. This is just one more.
It is another blow against the way of life that we take for granted here in the Fifty States. Without fussing about whether it is a good or bad way of life, it is what we’ve had for a long time. It is disturbing because it is a huge change in attitude and creates a conflict in our minds and hearts that is very difficult to deal with.
And (as is so often the case), the American people have done this to themselves. Sport is a major element in our society, something which seems to be so embedded in culture, politics, and economics that many people cannot imagine life without it. While professional sports is dominant, other parts of the sports “industry” are massive: college sports, high school sports, and even the “amateur” Olympics and the like.
Sport is a religion. For many, their entire life revolves around the various sports and teams – and once in a while, actual individual players and coaches. Other religions, if still practiced by these fanatics (a word shortened to give us the phrase “sports fans”), take a back seat to one or more of the currently-seasonal sports. I am not sure, but I think that more people celebrate the annual Super Bowl than they do Christmas. And that does not count such extended “festivals” in the holy sports calendar: the World Series, the Final Four, the now-biennial Olympics, the various states’ high school championships in various sports, and so on.
Sport is dominant in the economy. Billions and billions of dollars of products are sold, tied to teams, players, coaches, endorsements, and naming rights for sports venues.
Sport, especially professional and college “major sports” (football, basketball, perhaps baseball and hockey), influence taxation and government spending, especially on the local level, but at state and federal level as well. This varies from the tax status of the NFL and other sports corporations in federal law, to the special local sales and property taxes which are earmarked for subsidies of sports, professional, semiprofessional, amateur and “educational” in hundreds of thousands of cities, towns, and school districts. Vast sums of money are stolen from people and businesses and paid to contractors and employees to build, maintain and operate a truly stunning collection of facilities and organizations dedicated to sports. These range from community and school gyms and playing fields (including huge stadiums and domes) to golf courses and rodeo grounds and race tracks and the like, to great “cathedrals” of sports like the Pepsi Center and Mile-High Stadium in Denver, and the vast Olympics complexes that can be found in places like Salt Lake City and Los Angeles.
Directly and indirectly, both college and professional sports cause significant taxation, government, and private debt. They are as much a racket that gives false hope and empties out wallets as the gaming (gambling) industry with the lotto and all the rest.
And like Hollywood (and Nashville), as part of the entertainment industry, they are a key part of “bread and circuses” that we in the Fifty States have taken from the Roman Republic and Principate (Empire) and “improved on. They are used to help keep the population docile.
Which makes this current squabble about kneeling or standing for the Star-Spangled Banner even more ironic. In essence, the various activists are presenting a dilemma to the American masses. They are being asked to choose between two idols: two false gods (or pantheons). On the one hand, we have the state and the growing cult of adoration of the military. Failing to stand for the National Anthem is portrayed as “disrespecting the military.” On the other hand, we have the cult worship of teams and players in the sports sector, spilling over into the cult of celebrity (where the state is also a partner). People are being forced to choose. It is driving them (more) nuts. And either way, the state wins.
The cult of the state and patriotism has a long history: both world wars, and the Cold War, aided that. (The Vietnam conflict was something of a setback, but the Middle Eastern wars have for the most part overcome that.) So we have such cherished traditions as beginning each school day and virtually every public body meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance (replacing prayers to a competing god). Memorial Day was joined by Veterans Day and Independence Day and Armed Forces Day and more.
But the cult of sports is even more ubiquitous. Watch the bumpers and rear windows of vehicles. Watch the posters in offices and homes, the logos on tee-shirts and other garments, the “licensed” products sold everywhere. For example, the huge number of red flags with big white N’s I see (not just in Nebraska but in the surrounding states) identify the homes of those who worship the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The various Denver Broncos symbols are proudly displayed in hundreds of thousands of locations throughout the West. (I recently saw a store display of M&M candy in Bronco orange and blue and white, with appropriate packaging, selling for two dollars more than the same weight of standard M&M candy.)
Both these cults serve to exalt the state, to increase its power over society and us. And to distract us from matters of real importance, like getting free of the slavery we endure.
A pox on both their houses. Let them waste their God-given liberty on these two competing religions; there is no reason to take sides.
Mama’s Note: Indeed… as one who has never cared even a little for team sports, let alone professional “sports,” it is very difficult for me to understand why anyone takes all of this so seriously.