People enjoy sports as a way to forget their problems,
not to be reminded of them
This election season has lasted far longer than any I can remember. Even for professional politicians, the constant emotional theater of controversy, fear and anger during the election has grown quite wearying. Undoubtedly many Americans feel the same way – weary of the constant fighting and media natter, and yearning for a neutral ground where we can forget about our troubles for a while and enjoy the passionate distraction.
Many people find a brief respite in their favorite sports contests, an arena that is supposedly America’s ultimate safe space.
That is, it was considered so until recently. The controversy surrounding San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has decided to kneel instead of stand during the singing of the national anthem before games, represents for some a gross violation of that sacred place. In many ways, sports stars and entertainers transcend America’s social dynamics. Basketball great Michael Jordan is considered a god among many, his racial identity all but forgotten amidst his towering legend. Golf phenom Tiger Woods – at least before his fall from grace – was viewed in the same light by many. Sports stars enjoy the lofty, if somewhat precarious esteem of being those in whom we invest our collective fantasies about our most powerful achievements.