Think ‘fake news’ is a recent development?
Wrong – this insidious canker on an informed society has been around for thousands of years. But not in the form we tend to think of today.
And if you are a sports fan, you’re part of the problem.
A typical sports fan fritters away dozens of hours a week glued to the tube. Some of the more insane of this curious lot think nothing of spending hundreds of dollars on cheap foreign-made merchandise just because it sports (pun intended) their favorite team’s logo. The most extreme cases upend their wallets, spending thousands of dollars on season passes.
Who first called out sports as ‘fake news’?
Go back to ancient Rome, where the satirist Juvenal coined the phrase “panem et circenses“ or “bread and circuses.” He was referring to the practice of annona (grain dole) which parceled out food and entertainment as political rewards. This practice was an amazing success. Consider that annona began in 123 BC under Gaius Gracchus, and was so fiscally successful that Julius Caesar rebuilt the Circus Maximus half a century later, and Constantine grew it to its current bloated size in 400 AD.
But it was Augustus Caesar who turned ‘bread and circuses’ to a fine-edged political tool — it allowed him to be elevated to pagan godhead while ancient Rome barely blinked.
Sports fandom draws its historical roots from a word meaning insanity.
Consider the word “fan” – short for fanatic. In ancient Rome, this pejorative term implied the person was unreasoning and off his rocker. It was often applied to people who idolized the gladiators, fanatically following the exploits of their favorite circus warrior. They collected figurines of their hero, emblazoned their homes with mosaics and scratched graffiti of their hero’s name on public buildings.
In short, professional sports is, and always has been, a diversion to keep people from focusing on the problems of society. It is a drain on the economy, it huge waste of time, and a gigantic money-making diversion that keeps the populace distracted.
To this day, every television news program, every newspaper (that still exists), every news service, devotes one-quarter to one-third of their precious time and energy to sports. Not to mention those media channels devoted exclusively to sports…
Why does News do this?
What real news is there in teams’ scores, the latest triumph or failure, the latest record broken? With the possible exceptions of the Olympics or the recent uproar over “taking a knee,” when did any sports victory affect the world in any significant fashion? What treaty was signed, what genocide was averted, what disease cured, what famine avoided, because Team ABC defeated Team XYZ? Oh, and don’t get me started about the blatant lunacy of paying sports figures millions of dollars when firefighters, police, nurses, soldiers, teachers — the real heroes of every stripe — are paid paltry sums.
Nations going to war, economic entities making decisions that affect all of our
lives, genocides, atrocities of every ilk — all going unnoticed because News panders to those who consider devotion to a sports team more important. That is the REAL FAKE news, and the real tragedy.
Do you know what would I would consider unique in the world of sports news?
If some sports mega-star, paid gazillions of dollars, fessed up on camera, “Our team lost because I just didn’t give a rat’s rear-end. I phoned my performance in. Hey, I get paid whether I win or lose, so why should I give a rip? Turn off ESPN and get a life.” Or if the billionaire owner of a team let slip a truth during an interview, “Thanks for the free stadium, chumps.”
That would be real sports news.
Don’t get me wrong about sports — if you like to play sports, go and do!
Athletics is part of what makes us human. It is necessary for a healthy body and sound mind.
It is the glorification of professional sports that is the sickness.