Sports obsession distracts from true American priorities


In 2011, 111 million people watched the Green Bay Packers defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Superbowl XLV. Just over 50 million people watched the 2010 State of the Union address, which is slightly less than two times the 38 million people who watched Game 5 of the 1986 World Series.

The US national debt on February 6 was $15.5 trillion and climbing by the second. The average Super Bowl commercial costs $3.5 million to air, and tickets to the event cost upwards of $800. In a country where debt is close to $50,000 per individual, why are we spending close to a thousand dollars just to go to a sports game, or three million dollars to produce an ad?

If Americans spent ⅓ of the time they spend watching sports or tracking the statistics of a certain player for their Fantasy Football league and instead dedicated that time to understanding foreign policy, maybe we wouldn’t have been in Iraq for as long as we were?

Sports don’t matter. Though this may seem like uncharacteristic from someone like myself, considering my passion for all things Leesville football, it is important that we remember to take time to watch the State of the Union or learn about the candidates for the 2012 election.

Sports, for all of their violence-encouraging-bone-breaking danger, are a safety net for many people. They are a fun distraction from the problems that we face in the real world. It is easier to depend on sports because very little is riding on the outcome of the game. Sure, it might seem important that your team win the Superbowl (Go Giants!), but that isn’t nearly as important as who is running your country, or whether you will vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on a bill for legalizing gay marriage.

Yes, they are a fun distraction from the problems that we face in the real world, but do they matter? No. When Kyle Williams, 49ers receiver botched his team’s chance at winning the NFC championship game on January 22, he received verbal abuse from sportscasters across the country, hate letters and even death threats from people who in the past had been undying fans of the team. His fans, Americans alike, chose to focus on the outcome of one football game while on the same day, Joe Paterno passed away.

New York Giants players Jacquian Williams and Devin Thomas were quoted after the game that they targeted Williams specifically because of his recent concussions. According to, Devin Thomas noted Williams’ injuries and commented, “[Tyler Sash] did a great job hitting him early, and he looked kind of dazed when he got up. I feel like that made a difference and he coughed it up.”

This is the world that we have created. The existence of sports depends on sabotage or injuring others.

Jeremy Ritter, senior, considers himself an avid sports fan. He follows his teams very closely and across many sports. “Sports have always been important in my household. Growing up, I would sit with my dad and watch hockey or football,” said Ritter.

Despite his own appreciation of sports, Ritter does not believe that sports should be as high a priority for Americans as they are currently. “It is human nature to do things like sports. We fight, we are a destructive species.” However, he does not agree with the amount of time spent following sports versus the amount of time following foreign policy or other more relevant issues.

So, America, as March Madness begins, tournaments form and bracket sheets are completed, remember that we are still in the process of choosing presidential candidates and planning a budget for our country.


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