A Rollerball of Our Own

11 Nov

Today, I went down the road to watch the Tennessee Titans play the Jacksonville Jaguars. The game wasn’t very exciting, so I started taking in the surroundings. I watched the fans as they cheered for their team. I watched the video boards and the highlights from other games. I listened to the music. I heard the announcer try to rile up the crowd. I watched the players and coaches on the sidelines. All of that made me think of…James Caan.James Caan

In 1975, he starred in Rollerball, a movie about a violent sport in the future. Caan is Jonathan, the greatest and most famous player. The fans of his team love him while the fans of opposing teams feel the opposite. However, everyone recognizes that he is the best.

Rollerball has many themes, but one is overwhelmingly obvious. Corporate and government leaders use the game to distract the masses from the real issues and get them to focus on the game. This is an old story that goes back to the ancient civilizations, but, while sitting at an NFL game, I began to wonder if it is relevent today.

How many people know about the stats of their favorite player but know nothing about the false start of Obamacare? How many people are more concerned about the ups and downs of their fantasy team than about the ups and downs of the economy?

I am as guilty as anyone. When I get on the Internet, I head straight to the articles about my teams. I follow more sports writers on Twitter than news writers. When I talk to my friends about current events, it is about the state of the team rather than the state of the nation.

Has Rollerball come true? To a certain extent, I think it has. The scenes in the arena feel a lot like the scene in a football stadium. Is the NFL a conspiracy by our leaders to distract us from what is going on in the world? I doubt that, but it is a distraction. As we yell at the officials for being terrible, we forget about our politicians being terrible.

I guess it all comes down to this. We need to show as much passion toward the real world as we do sports. If we don’t get distracted from the real issues, then we can make the world with a great highlight reel.

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5 Responses to “A Rollerball of Our Own”

  1. DyingNote November 12, 2013 at 04:24 #

    Maybe we can yell at sport officials and players because we feel there’s still some utility in it, that it would bring about change. Politicians and government? – futile, perhaps. The cynic in us.

    You have an extremely valid point Rick. Perhaps it’s easier to engage with sport than with governance because the latter requires greater involvement and some sacrifice. Sport and entertainment are escape vents, no? And what are we if not escapists?

    • Rick November 12, 2013 at 04:57 #

      Everyone tries to escape. It’s human nature. But what happens when the escape becomes the focus? I like the theory that we feel that our voice can be heard at sporting events. Maybe we can alter the outcome. I would like to think that, if we try hard enough, we can alter the outcome in more important areas.

      • DyingNote November 12, 2013 at 05:02 #

        Exactly how I feel. And those voices are increasing in volume even in my country of cynics and fatalists. It’s just that I’m not sure if all of it’s well-directed. But still, these are steps forward.

  2. sittingpugs November 13, 2013 at 01:38 #

    When you take in your surroundings, whether at sporting events, the grocery store, or getting gas, do you ever think to yourself, “Look at all of these people I never knew existed prior to this moment” ?

    Perhaps precisely because athletic competition and mass media entertainment provide escape for both participant and spectator that one feels more agency in being able to affect the structure of that escape. Refusal to purchase the product or support the personalities involved can put a large enough dent into the pride and marketing campaign of some athletic figures and entertainment creators to bring forth a change.

    In the political sphere, however, bad press is just a minor setback, criticisms of policy or rhetoric are inevitable, and unless the “right” people in power feel betrayed or totally appalled by the actions (or lack thereof) of other people in power, the perceived efficacy of citizens standing up for their future/rights doesn’t shine as brightly.

    Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if the fastest way for a civilian to bring about improvements in their life is to write a respectful and honest Yelp review of a restaurant detailing the areas that are holding the business back from achieving its full profit potential.

    • Rick November 13, 2013 at 04:10 #

      I often think about the people around me. I wonder who they are and what their lives are like. I wonder if they are happy are sad. I wonder if they are good or bad. I believe everyone has a life worthy of a published biography.

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