Yesterday, my mom took me and my uncle to a Washington Football game.
The only sports I care for are MMA and soccer, but I always say yes to a live sporting event for three reasons:
- I’ll enjoy any event if I’m with people I care about.
- It’s always fascinating to see people who are at the highest level perform (in this case, NFL players).
- The people-watching is golden.
Today, I want to talk about that third one.
Growing up, football was my favorite sport (sorry, Bow Wow). Then around high school or college, I noticed something that turned me away from it.
People truly treat it like a religion.
Don’t get me wrong, I love how a sport can bring people together and evoke powerful emotion in millions of people. I enjoy listening to folks passionate about a sport discuss the business and inner workings of what makes the game tick. I enjoy the roars of crowds at games like the one I went to yesterday. Depending on the UFC bout, you can find me standing and screaming at the TV.
But what leaves a sour taste in my mouth is hatred—disgust for other players or fans (i.e. human beings) because of the jersey they’re wearing.
I’m not saying every single football fan is filled with rage, but it’s not uncommon.
When I was in high school, I would go see my team play against our rivals. I despised them. I wanted them to lose every game. I was convinced I didn’t like them as people without ever speaking to a single player.
For no other reason than the arbitrary fact that I attended my school. If circumstance led me to attend the rival school, I would’ve felt the same about my school. If I grew up in another state, I wouldn’t have even known either of these high schools existed.
Thus the religious context comes into play. When I see babies or toddlers with Steelers jerseys on, I doubt those kids chose to be Steelers fans. Likewise, if we’re born into a Muslim or Hindu family, we’re unlikely to be raised as Christians.
At the game yesterday, I saw fans flipping other fans off, telling them to “stop fucking talking,” and ironically clapping in their direction when their team did something good. There was an essence of mob mentality, meaning I saw people do things they would never do if they were in a living room with just one opposing fan.
There was no genocide, but in what other contexts do we act this aggressively toward other people?
I’m probably being overly dramatic. I just think it’s odd to see people feel so identified with a group of people they’ve never met. And it’s not even that group of people; it’s the shirts they’re wearing.
This blog likely triggered a few football fans. Apologies.
But maybe that proves my point?