Saturday, May 18, 2013
Entering the arena seating area, an hour or so before the game, I am greeted by the fresh, invigorating, feel of cool air. The arena lies vacant, excepting the odd rabid fan hanging out near center ice. This quiet Colosseum of open space fails to betray the imminent cacophony of 20,000 screaming hockey adherents, each, hell bent on seeing their team succeed in knocking the block off their hapless opponent.
Search high and low throughout the world, every community small and large, you will soon realise we humans seem incapable of living without the exhilaration of competition. This unidentified social disease filters through all corners of society; young or old, male or female, rich or poor, able bodied or disabled. If we are not personally participating, we are glued to a television vicariously living out our athletic dreams through the successes of our sports idols.
Do you feel the characterisation of sport as a social disease too strong a statement, off pace, or just sheer nonsense?
Possibly you are right, none the less, ponder the following assertions, feel free to stop me along the way if you determine my reason fails to hit the mark.
1. Competition: The root of all sport is competition.
2. Separation: Competition by it's very nature is an expression of separation.
3. Failure: In the world of competitive sport, the vast majority of participants fail to achieve their dreams.
4. Idolisation: Sport highlights a variable scale of strength and weakness, whereas strength is rewarded and weakness, if not hated, is at the very least, shunned.
5. Fear: Sport is all about keeping a detailed record of success and failure, this bookkeeping serves little purpose other than promoting feelings of inadequacy which are then converted into blocks of fear.
Competition: No one could argue the essence of sport is in fact competition. Have you ever stopped to think about the nature of competition? If you really think about it, you will notice each of us spend a great deal of time competing with others. It appears to me; competition represents an inescapable and integral core of social behaviour. Perhaps it is not too far a proposal to maintain that, as a species, we are incapable of escaping the clutches of competition.
Competition, in the mind of babies, begins the moment they realise they are not alone in the world. Baby will quickly notice the relationship between the attention and considerations of mom as they relate to his/her ability to coerce the mother's focus away from other tasks or from the needs of fellow siblings. To gain the attention of the mother, baby soon learns to develop fundamental skills related to the squeaky wheel law, or the law of reciprocity. Growing into the family environment; the toddler quickly becomes adept at competing for the attention of mother.
Moving beyond the home; our children are immediately immersed into a full blown agenda of forced competition. The child must compete for attention, good grades, social approval, sport and countless other manipulative structures of competitive control. Advancing into the teen years; we find the average child is completely entrapped by the systematic and relentless struggle to adapt, perform, and succeed. By the time our children leave high school competition has left an indelible mark of stress. Often, children must resort to prescription drugs to assist in the endeavor to maintain equilibrium. Enabling the psychotic drive for success is the constant reminder, in the game of life only the fittest competitors can survive. Part and parcel to the psychosis of competition is the tacit understanding that their sense of identity has become a function of how well they manage the rat race of control and domination. Those that fail, grow up feeling there is a capital letter "L" affixed to their forehead. Don't be a LOSER, no one will love you!
Is this the way we want our children to live?
Who can stop the insanity if not the parents?
Here lies the rub; the parents, having succumbed to the rat race wheel themselves, cannot see the wanton destruction foisted upon their children, nor can they illustrate a path toward sanity.
Many believe in the Darwinian ethos defining competition as the breeding ground for evolution, which, as we are incorrectly instructed, is a function of the natural law and order of the universe. For the vast majority who struggle to succeed; this Darwinian indoctrination creates unmanageable confusion in the developing minds of ourselves and our children. We have all been programmed to fail, when we do, we are taught failure equates to being a bad person. Accordingly; bad people are not deserving of love, kindness, or respect. Where does the cycle of competitive abuse end? For many children; it is a road that leads to alienation, feelings of uselessness, frustration, all resulting in an uncontrollable spiral into darkness which, in many cases, ends in suicide.
Separation: Competition, by the very nature of the exercise, is an expression of separation. If the scientific benchmark for embracing competition is Darwinian philosophy, then we need look no further than Napoleon Bonaparte to justify the staple of aggressive separation as artful warfare. The Napoleonic truism, co-opted from the Roman Empire, of "Divide and Conquer" is the basis for all competitive combative strategy. When at war, the most challenging opponent is one who stands united in a single endeavor; one heart, one mind, one steely blade. Unity is the undeniable trait of every successful army, divide the unity of a foe, and you are more than half way to executing their defeat.
Sports encourages separation in many different ways; sports leagues are pigeon holed into national, regional and city divisions. The teams themselves are further separated into lines ranging from the first string superstars to the fourth string wanna be's barely hanging on to their career. Within the structure of each team; objectives and goals are used to further divide the successful candidate or team, from the ineffectual. Sports writers and fans are constantly evaluating, praising, and or condemning, the benefits or drawbacks of every team and participant. Looking past professional sports to the minor leagues; we discover the same cookie cutter methodology of separation and evaluation affects all participants from little children in mini might divisions to the semi pro struggling on a AAA team with the hopes of one day breaking into the professional leagues.
Failure: Have you ever felt like you were designed to fail?
Each of us, with very few exceptions, are convinced we are failures. Even moderately great success can often be blanketed in feelings of despair, uncertainty, angst and unhappiness. Pick any sport, interview the person who is second best in the world, my guess is, more often than not, you will find a person locked in a quandary as to why he/she is not number one. We live in a world where winning is the only imperative, all else is considered abject failure. We have been weaned on feelings of inadequacy; we eat, live and breath failure. What else should this competitive environment produce other than weakness and unhappiness? This plague of failure entices all adherents to become consumed by thoughts, feelings and emotions highlighting a bleak undercurrent of desperation.
We seem to be never satisfied with our lot in life. Each gain is soon followed by the next goal; the process of clawing our way to the top is chock fill of interim victories that we never seem able to celebrate. "Keep your eye on the ball", "don't give up", "you can do better" are all platitudes used to steer us toward inevitable misery. Sport; whether participant or voyeur, is designed to leave you feeling like you are a loser. If you follow a favorite sports club, you don't need me to remind you that your team very rarely wins the big trophy at the end of the year. The average professional sports league has between thirty and forty teams, on any given year, only one will win the cup. Break it all down; you will quickly discover the entire realm of professional sport has been clearly designed to dis empower the individual.
Idolisation: Competitive sport assaults our individual and collective psyche on a plethora of levels; it is nigh on impossible to elaborate fully on the true destructive nature of it's domain. However sordid the damage; one of the most influential, painful, and debilitating affects sport has on society is realised when we ascribe talent with character. In the presence of successful people we seem easily confused into believing their status in life should somehow garner our respect, admiration, idolisation, and in some cases, love. Don't get me wrong; sports stars, business tycoons, administrators, any such ilk of successful people have, for the most part, worked hard to achieve their golden star in the Hillary notebook of life. In many cases, these celebrity stars, local heroes, the cream of the proverbial crop, have earned our respect and admiration. Such accolades bestowed upon the favoured should not be a function of their material success, rather we should look to admire their behaviour, if in fact characteristics like, dedication, integrity, love, respect and resourcefulness, prove to be the cornerstones of their existence.
Turning over the coin to analyse how society perceives those who have not enjoyed material success, we soon realise there does exist a nasty double standard of love for the rich and hate for the poor. For the most part, when confronted with the down and out segment of society, we naturally feel uncomfortable in their presence. Our discomfort is no surprise when we take a moment to consider the effects of common adjectives like bum, deviant, criminal, nutter, druggie, psycho, thief, and vagrant, to name a few. Social media has indoctrinated into our psyche a set of adjectives specifically designed to encourage disrespect, fear, and hatred between the wealth classes. Prepared we are to solely gravitate toward successful characters in the hopes that we may either emulate their achievements, or at the very least, vicariously covet their gains. In such matters of human inter relations we seem to trespass beyond rationality as we use monetarism to cavalierly throw away the marginalised segment of the global population.
Humanity would serve itself well to empty it's useless toolbox of dysfunctional social assignations. We can, and desperately need to, seek out new social templates which will encourage us to respect, embrace and love all individuals, successful or impoverished, beautiful or disfigured, smart or intellectually challenged. Personal power comes from knowing our place as a loving, and loved, member of the global family does not come with mandated material caveats imposed by elite social miscreants hell bent on mass mind manipulation.
Sport the Benign Harbinger of Fear:
Caught in the thrill of playing or watching sports we seem hard pressed to even glimpse the paradigms of fear which blanket the structure of all games. It appears to me like we are being pulled down a furiously exciting river raft adventure with no idea that just around the next corner deadly water falls await. Tumbling into the frothy void, we know not all will survive, but hey, that's okay, as long as I am a winner! Subtle coercion's, prickly infiltration's, steadily attacking our psyche go unnoticed by the rabid sport fanatics as their sense of justice is skewed by the manipulative social programming we call sport. The lines between war / sport, competition / domination, aggressiveness / abuse, justice / criminality, become blurred as we fixate on driving our competitive nature toward inane levels of social infidelity squarely directed against our less favoured brethren. Fear that we will not succeed, that we will become marginalised by our peers if we falter, fear that we must continue to struggle or certainly perish. How many goals are enough? How many opponents must we conquer? When, and who, will give us the permission to end this incessant race of rats? Am I successful yet? Do I have enough to be considered a winner? Have I earned your love?
Here lies the rub, I say again.... do you love me?
Careful consideration, compassion, tenderness, love, an embrace for the less fortunate, these are characteristics which will certainly make you a loser. There is no room for weakness, ill begotten mental portraits speaking to lift the spirit of our brethren will never frame the combative nature of sport. The weak are never loved, the poor are never admired, the ugly are never hugged, why?
There is room in sport to advance the social mindset of humanity. We can develop a competitive nature without the need to destroy each other. Sport can be used to teach us to work together for the mutual benefit of all players. We can use sport to draw from each other our finest attributes. This is all possible, but not until we begin to notice the many ways the elite pay masters, who run the slave machine we call society, control, dominate, and manipulate our minds. This social experiment we call democracy is really better defined as corporate enslavement. Fascism has bred contempt in the hearts and minds of the masses, we can stand up to the masters of industry and banking, we can define a new reality beyond the many subtle contrivances of manipulative indoctrination, but not until we open our eyes and wake up to the realisation that there is a bigger game afoot. They want us confused, they insist we see a reality other than what is truly present, the wizard stands hidden behind the curtain. Remember "1984" Orwell pointed to the beast.
war is peace....
freedom is slavery....
ignorance is strength...
In Lak'ech, dearest brethren, prosper with knowledge.... live with compassion.... united we love....