Archive for the ‘David Barash’ Category

Flip on the Football, You Bloodthirsty Conformists

March 27, 2009

“Marx was wrong: The opiate of the masses isn’t religion, but spectator sports.” Or so says David P. Barash, a psychology professor at the University of Washington.

Homerism couldn’t comprehend what the good doctor meant by this, so I went rooting around my Richard Marx album collection in search of the lyrics Barash was alluding to. Could have sworn that line was in the second verse of “Endless Summer Nights.”

Like Dick, though, I should’ve known better when dealing with a real life college professor. Turns out Dave was referencing some commie pinko named Karl. And, it turns out the professor wasn’t being too complimentary to us sports fans. (In fact, I think he just called us all pigs!)
When I figured this out, I was so mad that I almost clicked over to Extra Mustard to see if they had posted pictures of a new cheerleader of the week. But if my favorite movie Forrest Gump taught me anything, it’s that stupid is as stupid does. If this guy teaches college, I thought, maybe I should give him a listen. Boy, am I glad I did!
See, Dr. Barash explained that the reason I watch sports and root for the Sooners is because I need to have something in my life to make me feel proud. I don’t have anything like that of my own, so I trick myself into thinking I’m part of my favorite teams. That way, when the team does something good, it’s like I did it, too.
As if that wasn’t enough, I also learned that basically I’m scared of the world. I need to be part of a group to calm my overwhelming fear that I could be eaten by a lion. So, by becoming a part of a team, I’m killing two birds—one literal and one figurative—with one stone.
(Wait, I mean, I think I’m the one tossing the rock, even though it turns out that a bunch of other people are doing it for me.)
“But, Homerism,” some other naïve sports fan may say, “you can’t beat yourself up about this. You’re thinking too much.”
If you only knew! It turns out that sports fans, in effect, have caused the most atrocious bloodbaths in human history—World War II, Bosnia, Rwanda. You name it.
Here Homerism was, acting as if the reason I liked sports was because I enjoyed watching competition and the stories and dramas that unfold on the playing field. I had never stopped to think about how much different it was to watch a Kirosawa film or spend an afternoon at the Guggenheim. I never realized that I have all these issues that you wouldn’t find among Native American art buffs and opera lovers and Victorian literature aficionados.
Anyway, after reading this, I now realize that we’re once step closer to Judgment Day with the passing of every Ohio State-Michigan and Oklahoma-Texas game. So, thank you, Dr. Barash. When the mushroom cloud comes, sports fans won’t be able to say you didn’t warn us.

(Then again, I’d be more interested in reading a book or taking a walk than watching Washington’s football team, too. Someone get this guy an opiate.)