I too love it when people respond to me because it makes me think even more. This is what K5 is all about - discussion! Anyhow, I do agree with many of your points and somewhat disagree on others. If I may, I would like to further clarify a few points and expand on a few others.
I agree that we should not judge others based on their interests or hobbies. I personally will never insult somebody because they are a football lunatic. I probably would not hang with them, but I would have no problem with that person as long as they don't attack my interests or my way of life. To each his own I say. I also agree that there are intelligent people who watch sports. I have intelligent friends who enjoy hockey, football, etc... however, their interests don't end there. I agree that people shouldn't consider themselves superior over others because of their hobbies or interests even though sports nutz do it to people all the time.
I somewhat disagree with this statement: "I don't believe that athletes go into sports because they are mindless and society pushed them that way..." You did point out that this was not the reason that you went into sports. I agree that there are people who go into sports for the love of the game, be it as a player or spectator, but these types are in the minority. I would argue, that most are driven into sports by parents, grandparents, older brothers, society, etc. Little league football is such an example. Little league is not for the kids, it's for the parents. The kids just run up and down and have a good time, while the parents are screaming at eachother, at coaches, and at their children. There have actually been parents who have started physically fighting eachother in the stands! This behavior starts a vicious cycle that would make a juicy topic for an entirely different discussion alltogether. My point here is that sports are taken so seriously that there is no fun left in it.
If you are interested in sociology, then maybe I can point out a couple of more things. I'm sure that you're familiar with a bell curve. Take society and put it under that curve. You will see that the bulk of society falls under the middle section while the ends that taper out hold smaller numbers of people. The people in the middle fall into the "mainstream" while the fringes of the curve contain people who are different, odd, superhuman, crazy, and dumb beyond belief. Why did I bring up the curve? This is to allow you to understand my perspective.
The mainstream falls in the middle and makes up the majority. These are people whose interests are similar to eachother. To be more specific, these are people who have a likelihood of sharing a commonality of some kind, be it sports, soap opera's, cars, etc. The people on the fringes are less likely to find people they have something in common with because their interests are so different from that of the conglomerate "mainstream" portion. Want examples? What does society to do to young boys and girls... it betty crockers all the girls and muscle talks all the boys so to speak.
Let's use men for our example and keep in mind I'm not stereotyping or making generalizations. Most men can strike up a conversation about sports and quite possibly cars. How many would respond to "So, have you heard the new Huun Huur Tu Album?" I would say most would not know what Huun Huur Tu is.(It is a group of throat singers from Tuva, Mongolia fyi) Why don't most people know who they are? because society/RIAA/Radio stations/Parents/Friends introduce you to popular music. You have to go out on your own or have very very eccentric friends to find about off the wall groups like this. My point here is that mainstream culture hands you a selection of hobbies or interests that fit neatly into various sub-strata of the mainstream. I'm not knocking the mainstream. I like popular music however, a vast array of my musical tastes will never be played on a radio station. If I did not seek, I would never find the music I like today.
Sports are like the above example. Most don't discover sports and think wow!! Sports discovered them or their parents took them to a ball game at a young age or PE class gave them exposure. Look at how big sports are in America today. There is a "sports" section in the newspaper. There is a "sports" section on the nightly news. There are "sports" channels. People know more about a university because of it's football team and not due to it's academic programs. There are coaches who make more money than professors and there are even college players who make more money than professors, albeit illegally.
Let's move on to fanaticism and how wins and losses are percieved. In Europe, soccer riots have resulted in lost lives, injury, and the massive destruction of public and private property. Just when I thought only Americans could be so hungup over a game....A GAME... it is apparent that this madness extends beyond these borders. I watch ITN news and the BBC news occasionaly and I see these riots and innocent people getting killed because of a game. Soccer matches between towns in Germany, for example, have resulted in an almost full scale declaration of war. There was even a player who was caught by some angry fans and beaten to death because he lost the game to a rival soccer town. What in the name of #$%@ is that? Whatever happened to sportsmanship? People complain that boxing is a violent sport.... Damn, are they wrong.
Many who are sports fans will feel a different level of disappointment or satisfaction when a team wins or loses. I live in Texas, a big football state, and it amazes me how people actually come to work in a bad mood because the Cowboys lost. Who the hell cares. Well, I guess I should be greatful my coworkers aren't out looting and rioting, but still. This is what I'm talking about when I say "mindless." I don't mean that people are dumb, I mean that an outside influence as inconsequental as an outcome of a game determines their mood for the remainder of the day. Great, I lost a racquetball match yesterday and I should probably be more upset because I was actually in the game, while my coworkers are just spectators of players they don't even personally know. I play racquetball for fun, to blow off steam, and to stay fit. I have yet to incite a riot, burn down a city, or kill someone. My fans, if I have any, have yet to do any of the above either. Maybe I just don't get it.
At last, I want to point out again that in no way do I think of myself as above these people or that "mainstream" sucks. I'm simply pointing out my own observations and reiterating what many sociologists have also pointed out and of course I'm ranting. Finally, I believe that what sets geeks or other eccentric people apart is that many do not share enough "mainstream" values or they simply abhor various values of the "mainstream." Most importantly, I doubt many geeks inherited their geekiness from society. They discovered computers on their own. If someone pursues perl scripting, I can bet that society had very little to do with their decision to write scripts for fun. Geek, if one wishes such a label upon himself, is about love for technology/computers - at least in todays world. I would also include philosophers, scientists, professors, hackers, and people who generally think out of the box or like to tinker with technology and learn. Are they any better than the "mainstream" for it? Some would argue yes and others would argue no. Some would even aruge that they're worse off than the "mainstream." Why worse? Another aspect of this discussion that I could spin a research paper on.
Really, I would love to be able to write about and explain every theory and every sociological and cultural pattern I've studied. This discussion could spinoff in so many different directions it's not even funny. I love to study human culture and society. I have a B.A. in Anthropology, although I work in the IT field, I still enjoy the psychology of culture and society as a whole. Many of the things I questioned, pointed out or ranted about in this post have answers or reasons - at least from an academic perspective. The answer is one that fits neatly into a particular paradigm but still leaves many aspects untouched. This is what makes social sciences more difficult in many ways than hard sciences like physics. There are so many answers to the question. Figuring out the question, on the other hand, that's the hard part.
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