Know what I hate? Sports. I often argue with Davetavius over whether there’s something inherently wrong with sports, athletes, and sports fans. He takes the position that while sport culture might be one of the biggest detriments American society faces, it’s possible for sports to be a force for good, that there is some value in things like Premier League soccer (beyond the entertaining haircuts). I remain skeptical. There might be sports that aren’t completely disgusting, and there might be sport fans who are decent human beings, but that doesn’t mean I have to agree that, on balance, the world wouldn’t be a better place without sports.
The bullshit internationalist posturing surrounding the World Cup and the Olympics notwithstanding, sports — especially team sports — serve as a training ground for unthoughtful, jingoistic, aggressive idiots. It starts when you’re a kid and you see your parents screaming at a TV for no apparent reason, because they’ve for some reason decided to hitch their identity as human beings to an NFL team. And then you get old enough to actually play team sports (if you’re a boy, that is — if you’re a girl you may get to play “fag” sports like softball or soccer, but you’re more likely to end up taking dance lessons or wearing bloomers) and amass a menagerie of sporting idols. That’s when the real bullshit starts. Kids who are far too young to understand why they should be doing so can be seen screaming, painting their faces, and getting in fistfights over allegiances to sports teams that they’ve got no business giving a shit about. I mean, think about it, why would anyone be obsequiously loyal to a group of dumbasses they don’t even know just because they play with balls, even if they’re really good at it? Sports teams represent generic and basically valueless entities like cities, high schools, colleges, and meaningless “lifestyle” concepts created by corporate marketing teams, and I’m pretty worried about anyone who gets upset enough to scream while pointing at the ground (the number one way to express extreme anger among sports fans) over their allegiance to any of the above.
But that’s what team sports do, they teach people to develop obsessive loyalties to concepts and entities that any normal human being ought to not give a shit about, to become loyal to and personally invested in authoritarian entities that are actually detrimental to their own lives. American team sports teach young people that idolatry is all good, especially when directed at some violent, narcissistic asshole or team of assholes that represents our culture’s warped, misogynistic, and destructive idea of masculinity, and that unquestioning loyalty to vague and meaningless concepts and authority figures is where it’s at. And that’s how you get the kinds of jingoistic, unthoughtful assholes who, after September 11, talked about how “those terrorists don’t know who they’re fucking with” and how the US military was going to “go over there and kick some ass” as if they had assembled the weapons themselves out of their own empty Coors Light cans.
So, I’m not into sports. That does not mean, however, that I don’t think sports-related phenomena and sports fans are funny. Anyone who knows me knows I love nothing more than laughing at people who are sincerely involved in shit that sucks, and what better target than some idiot who is so invested in the fortunes of something that has no bearing on his life whatsoever that he’d kick someone’s ass over it? Those guys still abound, but when it comes to funny sports-related mega-trends, it’s slim pickings nowadays. The corporate homogenization of every element of American culture over the course of the last two decades or so has hit the world of sports harder than almost any other arena of our society. The NFL has always been completely embarrassing and loathsome, but it’s now also lost almost all of its capacity to entertain; in the quest to make sure that every adult male between 21 and 45 knows exactly what he needs to buy, the NFL has colluded with advertisers to make sure that nothing but aggressive marketing and boring, overly complicated simulated ass-kicking goes on during the average NFL game. Apparently, this has led even people who are foolish enough to be into the NFL to dub it the “No Fun League.” I don’t know shit about sports, but I’ll tell you what: you won’t see anything as awesome as this coming out of today’s NFL:
Nah, we don’t want to do anything cool or funny like that; let’s get another interview with Tom Brady about his boring-ass baby or his haircut or something. Plthhhh.
When I was a kid, the ONLY thing that made the many NFL games I had to sit through even remotely endurable was the touchdown celebrations, and apparently even those aren’t allowed now. I mean, who the fuck wants to sit through a football game without the chance of seeing someone try to moonwalk in cleats? The only moment I remember out of the countless hours of NFL I suffered through as a child is the Ickey Shuffle. Without that, it’s nothing but crunching sounds and commercials aimed at guys who get excited about sampling seasonal varieties of Samuel Adams. SNORE.
But enough about that. Let’s get to the point here: I hate sports, but the absurd social trends that sports begat in the 80s might be one of my favorite sources of entertainment. Chief among those trends was the wave of sport-themed polo-shirt-and-sunglass-rope rock singles released in the mid-80s. In case you need a refresher, here are two killer examples (sorry, but I couldn’t find the original video for the first one because whoever owns the rights is a weenie):
And let us not forget that Huey Lewis and the News put out an entire album in 1983 that was called Sports (by far their best work, my son).
But without a doubt, the best jock-rock song of the era was Dire Straits’ “Walk of Life,” because the video not only featured the band wearing sporty terry-cloth headband/wristband sets and sneakers with their Sinbad-approved sports coats and permed thinning hair, but it also celebrated the greatest sports-related social trend of the 80s: sports bloopers! Check it out:
Ack!!! I can’t even handle how awesome that video is. There are seriously about 75 people on stage, and they’re all doing something incredibly cool. The drummer looks like he’s in a drum-kit contest with Neil Peart, they have a dude who’s there to do nothing but play the tambo and do the Molly Ringwald, the guy with the acoustic guitar is wearing one of Stephen Tyler’s microphone scarves on his head and is barefoot, and there are two keyboard players, one playing it cool in a Johnny Cash shirt and the other making sure everyone knows from his stage moves and his bolo tie that he drives a convertible and wears red underwear. And check out how stoked the band is to be playing the song! They even get together several times in the center of the stage and look at each other as if to say, “Goddamn, man, touchdown! Rock and fuckin’ roll!”
In addition to the absolutely stellar dancing exhibited by the band, I love this video because sports bloopers are just so funny! Seriously, what’s more hilarious than watching a guy drop a football? Fucking nothing, dude. Expect a post dedicated the 80s sports blooper craze real soon (but not here).