The Self-Righteousness of Sports Fans

Frankly, Emma, I think you guys are both missing the point. Sure, the athlete-as-child argument is compelling, and yes, an undercurrent of racism probably applies (though people loathed lily-white Christian Laettner for his dirty play, too). But the glee fans get from displaying their moral superiority compared to star athletes is about just that: superiority.

In many ways, it's a humbling, even humiliating experience to watch sports stars excel at their craft with what appears to be ease. Watching Johnson juke Darrelle Revis for a touchdown, or Blake Griffin soar above the rim, or Albert Pujols crush longball after longball can make the average fan feel pretty bad about themselves. That guy may just be playing a kid's game, but he's better at it than I'll ever be at anything.

Athletes also happen to make more money, achieve more fame and (for us male fans anyway) have a far, far easier time with women. So when we spy a chance to assert our moral superiority after an inappropriate touchdown dance or Suh Stomp, we take full advantage. Sure, that guy makes millions of dollars a year, signs autographs wherever he goes, is in perfect shape and has more athletic talent in his little finger than I do in my whole body. But he doesn't play the RIGHT way, not like me. I put on my hard hat and go to work every day without flash, just like a real American.

So we get to feel smug and superior, and that offsets the next time we see a picture of Middling Athlete X hooking up with Kim Kardashian.

Thoughts, Hampton? Are you disgusted with Costas and the moralizers?

–Jake

Jump to comments
Presented by

Sports Roundtable

Patrick Hruby, Jake Simpson, and Hampton Stevens 

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Technicolor Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

Just In