Sports are Dumb

Sports are Dumb

Good morning, John. I have been known to go to a sports game and sometimes during them, I’ll be having a particularly good time watching people do extraordinary athletic things, and I’ll be taken by the urge to just yell, like, “SPORTS!” I do this, kind of half-and-half-y in a way that I don’t, like, in the moment realize. Like half of it is: “I am having an enthusiastically good time with this minor league baseball game and this hot dog is excellent!” And the other half is like, “I am an intellectual and so while I am enjoying this, I am enjoying it somewhat separately, and from an anthropological perspective, not like all these normal people.” Which is, of course, upon reflection… crappy! I’m not being too hard on myself here. Mostly, I recognize that the sports games I go to are not super easy to take seriously. Like all of the Missoula Bruins are much better hockey players than I am. But they’re also mostly teenagers. It’s not like I’m at an NFL game with the pomp and the fireworks and the triple digit ticket prices. Sometimes, I think the Bruins would pay me to go as long, as I sign up to buy a certain amount of personal pan pizzas. I enjoy enjoying things but I do have still a little bit of that “sports are dumb” mentality leftover from when I was socially discounted and occasionally punched by athletic people when I was myself a teen. This is understandable, but it becomes a bit more of a problem when you rationalize that perspective ’cause really it’s born in like, “I’m not gonna like the things that the people who don’t like me like!” But instead of admitting why you’re actually uninterested, which is that you’ve been kind of socially excluded from enjoying this thing, you end up with some half-assed argument about how “Oh it’s so exciting that a hockey puck gets to be beyond the geometrically defined plane of the place where you don’t want the hockey puck to go! Woo, everybody’s celebrating!” “I’m such an intellectual. I understand where true meaning actually comes from which is…” [inhales] “Duh um, oh shoot!” All value is bestowed by humans So when we say it matters that the ball went through the hoop, it matters! If that makes you uncomfortable I wouldn’t look too long at anything. But I will admit, coming into your video, a certain lack of interest in the World Cup Though by the end of the video I had a lot of questions that I was very curious about, Particularly why all the teams seemed to have eleven people except for the Russian team, which has like 26! But also: why did that video, which made me laugh so hard I peed a little, not get more views? And I think maybe part of that is that Nerdfighters are probably a little bit more likely to be like me than like you when it comes to sports enthusiasm. But, as the one who was a little bit perplexed by the fanaticism of sports fans, I want to make a case for the World Cup. Caring about stuff is good and having passions that you share with people who are otherwise somewhat dissimilar from you is maybe even better! And the thing about the World Cup unlike, say the World Series, which will maybe occasionally have a Canadian team in it, It really is a /World/ Cup soccer, and I apologize for using that word But I am deeply American, is a /world/ sport. And the same way that the US and Russia and a bunch of other countries can work together on a space station, and maybe that is an even loftier thing than the science that gets done there. For one month, every two [four] years, the whole world works together to figure out who’s best at a dumb game. But honestly maybe there isn’t anything less dumb than this. We have these tribal instincts and so finding ways to focus them on something that isn’t violent, but instead it’s beautiful! It’s a celebration of human skill and intellect and hard work and perseverance. In other words, it’s a celebration of a bunch of stuff that pretty much everybody can get on board for. There’s an equality of the pitch, an opportunity for nations to interact in a way that doesn’t have anything to do with the fraught mess of geopolitics. The World Cup matters so much! Without mattering too much at least to most people. So what I’m saying is maybe sports /are/ dumb. And maybe that’s the whole reason why sports /aren’t/ dumb. John, I’ll see you on Tuesday. Three things: Oh my god I’m gonna be at VidCon a week from now. I just uploaded a video on hankschannel about why I used to play hockey. And we just relaunched a new design of, and I’m so happy about it

100 Replies to “Sports are Dumb”

  1. Anytime people can get rabidly, fanatically passionate and grown men will jump into each other’s arms gleefully or console each other through agonizing sorrow, over contests that really matter, well, not at all…this is a good thing. No, it is a great thing. If it is part of human nature to seek confrontation and struggle, let it be on a playing field, directly in the public eye, with rules and rituals and traditions, and let it, at the end of the day, mean nothing at all.

  2. I applaud you for acknowledging that the "soccer" word sucks, and that the so-called World Series has nothing of world-wide.

  3. I've watched John's video at least five times, lol – every four years I kind of wish I'd paid more attention to the game so I could be more emotionally invested. Good thing there's plenty of time before the World Cup is held in North America ?

  4. Oh Hank. I mean, it is actually kinda dumb and worthless but I appreciate your optimistic attitude. And yes some things might just be more important than institutions that help install tribalism conditioning.

  5. England likes football too much, and it sucks in the worst way. I myself have almost faced violence just from random guys because I said I don't care about football. I really wish I was exaggerating.

  6. I haven't watched a football game since I stopped playing in a marching band. What ever happened to band halftime shows at football games?

  7. I absolutely get where you're coming from Hank, and I think it's wonderful to celebrate whatever you want to celebrate. Something that you might not be aware of is that domestic abuse incidents rose by 38% in the UK when England lost in 2014. Sure, we can enjoy what we enjoy, but we also need to be critical of how toxic masculinity plays a part in those things.

  8. TBH I only like watching the highlights. Just show me the good stuff! I also don't get what the apeal of sprts was when it was all news papers and radio broadcast.
    Heck even on old standard cable it was hard to even seen the hockey puck half the time.

  9. I don't mind other people enjoying sports, but I personally do not find them very entertaining unless there's a huge upset or if it's really close at the last minute. And even then, I can't say I've ever been entertained by basketball or baseball.

    I prefer Olympic sports, mostly where people compete as individuals and where winning is completely objective. But even those I don't watch that much.

  10. As a german, I personally want the german team to leave the national cup as fast as possible because the political climate gets more racist and less ‘attention to the decisions our government makes’ the further we get in the cup

  11. I watch vlog brothers to assert my physical dominance over these "men" by virtue of the fact that I exist.

  12. Hank, as a crazy person (yes, with a diagnosis) I never got what my dad did regarding gridiron football. Sometimes the clusters of men would do athletic things and the ball would get somewhere and dad would think THAT WAS TOTALLY AWESOME and dance around the room in joy. And I'd be all, wait, what?

    I've gone to sporting events and would eat a hotdog (and a malted, which is a personal favorite tradition) and would get caught up in the collective effervescence, which is to say everyone else would cheer and I'd get excited and a bit of a buzz. And when there were long runs without cheering I knew the opposing team was winning and we were having a bad time of it.

    Now, if we could choose to not have wars in lieu of having sporting events instead, then yeah, I'd say sports are awesome. At the same time, we do have sports hooliganism (which is a big deal in Germany) in which people get violent over sports games. But there's much less sports hooligan violence than most other kinds of violence, e.g. racist violence or war violence or religious violence. So, yeah, I'm down with it being a sort of ritual warfare so we don't kill each other.

    But as for interest in the games themselves… meh.

    Edit: for clarification and grammar

  13. I hate the world cup and will continue to hate the world cup but that's only because I'm a bartender in England and it makes my job very difficult

  14. John, you should do a video about the origins of modern sports. Our school programs go back to Dr. Arnold headmaster of Rugby School (a.k.a Dumbledore). He, and many others of the day, believed that being an intellectual made one weak and immoral. Thomas Hughes wrote a book, Tom Brown's School Days which bears an uncanny resemblance to Harry Potter (hence the Dumbledore crack. This, and many other people and movements, congealed into the "Muscular Christianity" movement. Supporters of this movement promoted sports, especially football, in schools to counteract the dangers of too much thinking.

    One goal of football was to train tougher missionaries who would then go out and spread the good word to "lesser breeds without the law." Most of the first American schools that adopted football started life as divinity schools (Yale, Harvard etc.).

    You are right. Sports are dumb and have failed in their original mission. In a paper I wrote in grad school I concluded my survey of football by noting that "First it was Christianized, then it was Hellenized then it was Romanized and finally it was televised."

  15. It's not that sports are dumb per se, but tying your identity to this super arbitrarily defined team that, let's be real, was a third of the rival team last year is dumb.

  16. It's a celebration of being human. Our universe is big and hostile and impersonal, yet here we are literally making a game out of it.

  17. I know Hank isn't really serious on this issue but if he were then he forgot about what all pro sports is about: Money, Money, Money. It is about the owners and athletes making as much money as they can no matter what. None of them give a wit about the people they claim to represent. To that end pro sports has created and fostered a "win at all cost" attitude worldwide where the old idea of real sportsmanship is a joke. It now extends to everything else we do like our politics, religion, and business. Sports isn't dumb, it is sick and the people keep falling for it with their loyalty and cash.

  18. Sports are only beneficial to those actually playing. Way too much time and money is spent on athletes for what they actually contribute to society.

  19. I mean, I'm cool with sports enthusiasm in theory, but hordes of angry men rioting over a bad result and billions of dollars getting poured into a largely inaccessible system are not quite as defensible

  20. I have no love for Sports because it represents a toxic mindset of humanity, one that believes that only might makes right, one that believes that your worth as a person is defined entirely by your physical stature, and one that believes that so long as you can either hit someone hard enough, or lie convincingly enough that someone hit You too hard, you can succeed in the world. Not through making the world an ACTUAL better place, just ask Vancouver residents how the local games affect their city, but through silly competitions of putting a bunch of people on a field and secretly hoping one of them leaves on a stretcher, or in worse cases, putting two people in a box and secretly hoping one of them ends their career, or worse, their life.

    Sports represent the logical conclusion of an obsession with competition, where ethics go to die in favor of simply saying "We're better than you".

  21. Sports are good to participate in. Watching sports is about the most pointless thing to do. People should socialize, but they shouldn't socialize over garbage.

  22. Sports are uninteresting to me, not because of any social impact but because I dont like watching I like playing… I am sure this feeling has to account for at least a noticable portion of people who just arent interested to watch others do things instead of doing them yourself, also to me sports take the fun out of games… id rather watch people at the park play soccer than the world cup, cause they arent getting a paycheck, they just wanna have fun…

  23. Thank you so much for this. I'm an (United States of) American on an exchange in Argentina. The match is always on at school or in any restaurant we go to and it's something you could talk to your best friend or a random stranger on the street about. We get school off when Argentina plays to go and watch with friends and family. It always strikes me as being amazing when I realize that these players are from opposite sides of the world, speaking completely different languages, but able to interact through a shared passion they've spent their lives fostering. Thanks for the video

  24. It's not the sports that are dumb. As a matter of fact, playing them is smart. What's dumb is valuing the observation of someone you've never met more than… well, let's talk about some of those things that have fallen prey to ball-lust (or puck-passion): marriages, children, education (college sports no longer give a rats tushy about academics), religion (the world cup is one), art, even, *gasp*, illicit drugs. Professional sports have so fed our dopamine (and testosterone) processes there are few markets that process so much revenue. The sport itself could be beautiful, but given its hormone ties, like sex, the money in it has ruined it. Stop watching. Start a neighborhood league and go play. At least support someone who values your actual support more than FIFA (and Putin) do your dollar. Get your personal power back.

  25. These are good points. But every time I hear how much a play is paid or how much a team spends, I can't help but to be frustrated. What if we had that enthusiasm for helping this world develop and prosper. Millions of people and children would still be alive. Many nations and communities could be far better off.

  26. I've never liked sports, never will. I don't think it's just that I was excluded from them as a child, but it's because if I did play and I made any mistake, I was harangued by everyone on my team. And when people would talk about the World Series or the Superbowl, and I didn't know what they were talking about, I'd get harangued as well. And it bothers me that now, as an adult, when I tell people that I don't like sports, and I don't give a shit about the World Cup, the Olympics, the World Series, the Superbowl, etc., they automatically judge me for it. Hank mentioned the hoity-toitiness of judging people for liking sports, but it's a 2-way street.

  27. I'm a nerd but I LOVE the World Cup because it's so intense and I love seeing everyone coming together (not everyone, but the 32 teams who play in it) to play the game and try to win.

  28. Physical activity, competition and fun is the healthiest thing you can do for your body… Sports can not only make you physically stronger and healthier, it will make you mentally stronger, you will find new friends, have a second family with your team and most importnantly, it will teach you alot about life, social skillwise…

  29. Your problem is that when you think about sports, you mainly think on the professional level and that's totally missing the point of sport itself. Main purpose of sports is the healthy life and socialising. When you start thinking smaller, maybe just a regular sunday league in your small hometown, there's nothing better than playing sports with your friends, getting exhausted and then grabbing some food and drink afterwards! Not all people who play sports want to be professionals and earn millions, some of us just want to enjoy the sport…

  30. I watched John’s video before this one, because I respect order, and I watched it three times. I commented to my husband that I thought it was his best video and made him watch it. And I know nothing about soccer!

  31. It's true that I don't particularly like sports, but for me, it's more about the fact that I don't really care for being a member of the audience, seeing other people do a thing that I enjoy. For instance, I love video games, I'm not particularly good at them but I have loads of fun. I have zero interest in seeing professional gamers play some of my favorite games at a competitive level, because for me the joy element comes from actually doing the activity, not from seeing someone else do it., even with a higher level of expertise than I could ever achieve.

    So while I have nothing against competitions of any sort, whether traditional sports or e-sports or chess, in general I just prefer to keep myself entertained doing things rather than seeing things be done by other people. But I'm glad that others have found stuff that works for them!

  32. This is a fair opportunity to remind people that "Being called a nerd means being told 'you like stuff'." Being a nerd about sports isn't bad…you're passionate about something. That doesn't speak poorly to what other people are nerdy about, it just means that's what you're nerdy about. Love it.

  33. Especially team sports are too much of a tribal thing for my taste. I mean I like to exercise and to participate in most activities where I get to exercise, but I generally don't see the point in spectating others exercising while overtly passionately identifying with one arbitrary group of people.

  34. I'd say we should maybe at least care about women's soccer too if we're gonna get crazy about man's one for a month, though.

  35. I don’t think it’s stupid. I think it’s fun if your playing. Otherwise, I don’t really go to them but watch them on tv.

  36. The main arguments on why sports are dumb are ridiculous because all they do is break it down to the bare essentials. If you do that, you can make anything sound dumb. "Oh you enjoy movies? All it is is people pretending to be other people and pretending to do things to advance a pretend narrative."

  37. I didn't watch John's video because I didn't understand any of it in the first minute so I stopped watching. I don't get the jokes.

  38. I wasn’t proficient at ball sports as a kid as I have very poor/weak binocular vision which wasn’t properly addressed until I was 50. I still can’t track someone tossing me something like a set of keys but my vision is better.

    I don’t like sports not due to being excluded but the massively disjointed compensation for what they’re doing. It’s not doing kids a favor attracting them to professional sport as a reasonable career path when so many other more worthwhile endeavors go ignored and are unsung.

    Sports to me seems to be a huge waste of resources and attention given the few people who actually benefit. It acts as a social distraction while horrible things are happening. In a sense it’s collectively causing too many to take their eye off the more important ball.

    To be fare I feel the same way about TV in general as it’s just a huge placating distraction while the public is robbed blind.

  39. TL;DR

    Hank, you're just seeing the end result here (hockey puck gets to be beyond a geometrically defined plane, etc.). You need to look at the bigger picture here – how the hockey puck gets to be beyond that geometric plane, the hurdles the players had to overcome to get to that result, the skills of the players that helped them overcome those hurdles, the years of training and discipline it takes for them to develop those skills (NOT anyone can achieve it, and even if they can HAVE THEY?), the teamwork involved, the strategy involved. in fact, some sports are so intricate and need thorough planning and execution that they're no less than actual warfare.

    If you discard these factors based solely on the argument that these players are teenagers, I highly recommend you check out Cricket where the players are up to 45 years old. To be good at cricket, you don't just need good motor skills and hand-eye co-ordination. You need patience, maturity, presence of mind, communication skills, leadership skills, analytical skills, political skills and many more skills of the mind.

    Some of these sportsmen are geniuses in their own rights, and I'm sure after reconsidering all these things, your opinion of sports will change.

  40. I don't like sports because I'm not good at them, and I've been socially excluded because of it, so that sucked any enjoyment I can get out of sports because I've connected them to negative feelings, like anger and sadness, but that doesn't mean I don't see why people enjoy them, and if someone enjoy's them I won't bash them for it

  41. I don't like sports just because I think they're kind of boring. Like, they just can't hold my attention that long.

  42. Its only stupid when people get attached to the players
    I mean as a city hometown pride its OK but when people wear jerseys and talk about players like they know them its sad

  43. I don't care for sports. Despite having participated in a couple. Mainly I dislike American football (aka Handegg). If there's a significant reason for that beyond any disdain for the sport itself, it is most certainly that my dad would watch it all the bloody time and it was quite annoying.

  44. Sports are as dumb, as someone with a 300 books library making a 4 minutes long video talking about how dumb sports are… Excuseme

  45. I like sports because the team represents my home and culture. And anytime my team beats another teams it makes me feel good knowing my culture is Superior till the next time those 2 teams meet.

    Like Michigan State vs Ohio State

    Or Michigan State vs Michigan.

    Detroit Red Wings vs Chicago Black Hawks

    Detroit Lions vs Green Bay Packers

    Detroit Red Wings vs Colorado Avalanche

    Detroit Red Wings vs Pittsburgh Penguins

  46. It take intellect to enjoy and compete in sports, Like it take intellect to enjoy being gay and a social commentator. It a different type of intellect. You are racist of what people enjoy. You have a below normal intellect because you can not enjoy a range of active and only find fault in other actives you can not master.

  47. I wasn’t socially excluded. I’ve constantly had family and friends trying to introduce me to sports fandom. I find it boring as tar. I don’t expect those same people to necessarily want to play DnD or keep up with paleontology discoveries. We all like different things and some things we just can’t get into. I’ve never even met a bully jock.

  48. I feel so misunderstood. I hate sports because I find watching it extremely boring. I never really had a problem with the people that played it at my school, and I'm fine with going in person and making an event of it. I just grew up with family members that love putting sports on the TV and I've always found it mildly torturous to try to pay attention to lol

  49. I don’t dislike sports because I feel that I’m smarter than everyone, I dislike the fact that in American schools, sports are shoved down the throats of every kid, while the arts are cut left and right. I grew up playing sports, and then I found my true passion in music. I realize I’m the extreme minority here, and people think I’m totally weird because I don’t give a shit about whatever team is doing what, or the fact that I haven’t watched a game all year, but I feel the same way about people who say “I like a little of everything” when I ask what kind of music they like. Really??? I think people who arent obsessed with music are strange. We’re all different I guess.

  50. It's not about it being dumb, the unique kind of feeling that only sports can give is something I'll never trade off for anything.

  51. Sports are stupid because they're pointless games. The only physical activity with meaning to it is combat.

    If I lose a basketball game to you, at least I can still beat your ass in a fight, but if you're getting curbstomped, you won't brag about how you'd dunk on me if this were basketball.
    Football is for wannabe tough guys who don't have the confidence to fight with their own power alone.

  52. Thanks for sharing… I like sports that I personally play…. I don't understand the people who are just HIVE minded….

  53. Sports are a good distraction for masses. I'm sure all the rich cok suckers who run the World are pleased with that. I enjoy it every now and then myself, but I don't much care for a bunch of grown men making millions playing with each others balls and giving each other hugs and what not to play a game, A GAME. I'm reminded of that scene in the Bronx tale when sonny asks C why he's upset about Mickey Mantle crying. They don't give a fk about you being the point. I suppose it's all irrelevant in the end, if it floats your boat, have at it.

  54. Yah… Sports are dumb. Or at least watching them. If you play sports, you at least get something out of it. I've never understood how watching somebody else do something is entertaining, unless you're watching to learn, to further enhance your own skills, but most people who watch sports don't play sports. I don't get it.

  55. Exactly. The thing I enjoy most about olympics and world cups etc. is that it exposes different cultures and nations for each other and generates all kinds of discussion and genuine appreciation. It's always a great feeling when foreign people root for an athlete from your country who you share certain things/traits with. And it makes you like them more

  56. I know this one game where you put the ball in the basket but the basket has a hole in it. People will try and try to put the ball in the basket but the basket HAS A FUCKING HOLE IN IT! AND THEN IF YOU BECOME A GOOD PERSON IN SPORTS YOU GET A MEDAL THAT SAYS: “Best in shooting a ball in a basket that has a hole in it.”.

  57. I played football in highschool and went on to the military. Then realized sports are so boring and pointless. They are pushed so hard in school and it benefits so few children. Yet everyone gets to pay for it.

  58. I prefer to play sports instead of watching them. Watching sports bores me to sleep. But i do occasionally watch martial arts tournaments for research. Because I'm a martial artist. To be more specific a 3rd brown belt in kenpo karate.

  59. Sports are self evidently dumb and stupid and a waste of time but I can't blame people for being hooked on them as I'm a videogames addict, another dumb, stupid and pointless activity.

  60. My view on sports:
    It humans pitting humans against humans. It's a contained, controlled, non-lethal war.

    But I you like it, you like it. And I'm not getting in the way of that?

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