The Self-Righteousness of Sports Fans

More

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)

What's the Number One Thing We Could Do to Improve City Life?

A group of journalists, professors, and non-profit leaders predict the future of livable, walkable cities


Elsewhere on the web

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

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

Just In