Wednesday, September 27, 2017

1850 What's Wrong with this Picture?

1850 What’s Wrong with this Picture?

It depends on who you ask. But no one yet has asked the right question. The proper question is “What is America’s most widespread religion?”  And the answer is Sports.

And as a bonus, you can practice it alongside any other faith without angering your priest, minister, rabbi, guru, swami, imam, grand dragon or whatever.

Football players knelt during the playing of the national anthem.  Sacrilege?  No. Nowhere does it say you have to stand.  No one made a big deal of this when Jackie Robinson did it in the 1940s.  

For that matter, no one really cared that Tim Tebow did it in what we were assured was a gesture of devotion.

In the US, there’s supposedly a separation between church and state.  But what happens when the religious divisions are Football, Baseball, Basketball and Hockey instead of Christians, Jews, Muslims and Hindus?

The critics are loud and numerous.  It’s a disgrace, they say.  It’s the wrong venue for a protest against racism, they’ll tell you.  The president says the owners should fire the “offending” players.

The team owners tell trump to mind his own business. Not bad advice in general, but especially with this particular play -act president.

Sports as religion is as American as the Star Spangled Banner.  It embraces true American values, not the Judeo-Christian ideals we think of, sometimes delusionally.

Violence. Grudges. Ridiculous rivalries.  It enshrines Darwinian survival of the fittest in those rivalries. And it enshrines tribalism.

But it also advocates “sportsmanship” just as long as you don’t get caught cheating or mainlining human growth hormones or taking steroids, or gambling or womanizing or manizing.

In much of the country, a major denomination is Footballism.  In Brooklyn of the 1950s, it was Baseballism.  In parts of Europe and Latin America, it’s what they call Football but we call soccer.

In all cases, the ruling body is the ruling body and the commissioner is the pope. The teams are the dioceses and the owners the bishops.  The players are the priests and the spectators are the congregants.

How do you show reverence?  Ask Uncle Mac from down the block.  He went to Iowa City this past weekend for the Penn State game, a distance of almost 800 miles.

“Aunt" Rose’s dying words in a cab in Gramercy Park were said to be "Go Yankees!"  

There are devils and angels.  The angels?  Oh, Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali, Billie Jean King, Michael Jordan.

There are fallen angels: Pete Rose, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong.

And there are devils: George Foreman (since redeemed, but be careful, those grills get hotter than… well, hotter than they should if you misbehave.) Ronda Rousey,  Fuzzy Zoeller, Mayweather, LeBron James.

When trump goes after the clergy and the congregants, he's making a big mistake.

America takes this religion seriously, donates generously and sometimes talks and thinks about nothing else.

So the answer to “What’s wrong with this picture?” is nothing.


Footballism: There are three major branches. High Schools play Friday nights after sundown. Colleges are Seventh Day players. The largest branch, the NFL plays on Sundays, but usually with extra services on Monday and Thursday Nights.

Baseballism, Basketballism, Hockeyism, Soccerism:  Services are held daily during the seasons.

Golfism, Tenisism, NASCARism:  Services at these branches are weather and climate dependent. Check your local newspaper or news website.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2017

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