It seems to me that sports here in the U.S. is a dominant pastime. To call it a pastime is even an understatement; perhaps obsession is more appropriate. It dominants our TV newscast, occupying almost as much time as all other news items put together. It plays an important role in our educational system from high school though college sports. Parents would rather schools give up algebra over sports in a budget crunch. Many students aspire to become professionals in sports. Professional athletes are among the highest paid people in the workforce, some commanding the salaries of CEOs. Sports at all levels are extraordinarily competitive. It commands a larger audiences on TV than any other genre. People are generally more passionate about sports than any other aspect of life including religion and sex. Almost as much is spent willingly in all forms of sports as is somewhat grudgingly spent on education in America today.
So the battle of brawns over brains is very heavily weighted in favor of brawns. Yet in adult life sport is only a form of entertainment for most. It plays almost no role in the realities of daily life. In fact it is frequently used as an escape from life as drugs are to a drug addict. It plays no role in occupational or coping skills. For most it is a passive spectator activity other than the occasional jumping up and down exercise to cheer on our favorite team. It uses very little of our powerful intellect, rather it excites our more primitive brain. It does seem that sports plays a disproportionate role in our lives. So why does it so dominate our lives yet have so little relevance to it?
Being autistic I have an altogether different outlook towards sports. I have almost no interest in sports. I see how sports affect others but cannot relate. Knowing what I know about autism it has its foundations in the inability to sense the feelings of other. I believe that non-autistic people are able to sense the excitement of others through a third sense which in turn excites them. That is why going to a game is far more satisfying to the average sports enthusiast than watching it on TV. In an actual game there are many people who are sensing many other people’s enthusiasm. Those who watch it on TV find it far more rewarding doing so with others than alone. But even doing it alone can be exciting with the sound on due to conditioned response. However they are not conditioned to respond without sound. Those such as I, with autism, can’t even get off first base. We don’t have that initial experience of crowd excitement so we simply cannot relate. Crowds are simply a bunch of noisy and annoying people acting irrationally. I dislike crowds, especially noisy ones, intensely. So I can look at sports dispassionately.
The only value sports seems to have as I see it is a venue for acceptably venting built up frustrations in life. So it does have its good side. However there are also other ways of harnessing out daily frustrations and anxieties. Talking it out with friends, meditation, other social activities such as dancing and other ways of having fun can bring about the same kind of release without aggression.
Parents often feel more strongly about sports than they do about their children receiving a better education. This plays a role in how schools prioritize curriculum. Parents want children to learn core curriculum but rather they have sport over college preparatory classes. The problem is that advanced college preparatory classes in the U.S. is basic curriculum elsewhere in the developed world so kids don’t get college preparatory subjects before going to college and thus are behind other countries. Instead they must wast time in college taking these classes before starting college level courses. I am not saying that sports should be eliminated from schools, but I am saying academics should be far more emphasized.
So because brawns is so much more emphasized than brains in America we have a brain shortage that may hinder us from sustainable economic growth in the future. It will be engineers, scientist, businessmen, etc. that keep this country advancing. These professions and skills all require a lot of brains and almost no brawns. So where does this all leaves us? Lagging the rest of the developed and developing nations in education, the foundation of progress and the future. The world is quickly changing and not going to wait for us. We are starting to loose the game of economics and industrialization, a game requiring far more brains than brawns. We need to wake up and raise the bar of expectations far higher for education at all levels or …
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