I was watching the National play the other night, and I had a moment of lucidity where I stepped outside of the situation and looked at all the cheering fans. Everyone was having a good time, and most of the people were cheering on for the home team. People screamed and shouted encouraging phrases at their players, and some nasty stuff at the visiting team’s players. So I got to wondering why we care so much about a game?
Think about it. These are millionnaires playing a sport, and whether they win or lose is not going to matter a whole hell of a lot in the long run. That the Nationals melted down last year didn’t change my life. It didn’t save any children with cancer. Maybe someone who put a large bet on the team had their life changed, but, other than the idiots who place bets on sporting events, nothing changed. And it’s the same with every other sport.
Not only that, but we care about the players’ lives outside their sport. I remember being absolutely nauseated at all the news reports of who was dating Jeter or whether or not this or that player used performance-enhancing drugs. Who cares?
Well, apparently, a lot of people care. People care enough to buy tickets to games, but jerseys of their favorite player(s), and tune in to news reports about them. Why is it?
I asked a friend of mine who is in the field of psychology, and he said it all has to do with a fantasy in our head. In a way, we live vicariously through the players. We want to make millions playing a game, but we don’t, so we do the next best thing. We go to games and follow the lives of players and fantasize about how we want to live and what we would do in their place. We also think that we can magically influence the outcome of the game by being there. Just look at how many people say, “We beat the Mets!”
Oh, yes, the sciency-skepticky part of this blog post. Well, I’ve been paying close attention at the cult status behind Andrew Jeremy Wakefield and other anti-vaccine and anti-science activists. The common anti-vaxxer is not a celebrity. He or she is probably a regular person with a regular job who has a regular home and a regular car. Maybe even a regular dog. They want to do more to push their beliefs on the “nonbelievers,” and so the cheer on their deities with all that they can. They’ll even donate money to get a non-existing magazine on how to live naturally and stuff.
And woe be upon the members of the “opposing team.” The anti-vax fan will lie, cheat, and steal if it means the other team loses and theirs wins. They will say and write the most horrible and childish of things, and they will believe (or claim to believe) some pretty outlandish things. Much like Ben Roethlisberger is a “rapist” to the Ravens’ fans (or Ray Lewis is a “murderer” to the Steelers‘ fans), scientists and physicians who promote the use of vaccines are “child murderers” or “Big Pharma shills” or “whores.”
To people like Glenn up there, the vaccine workers being shot at and killed in Pakistan are “whores.” Classy, but not unexpected for the true believers, the fanatics, the fans of the anti-vaccine movement. The people who want to be like Andrew Jeremy Wakefield, Jenny McCarthy, or any other anti-vax celeb.
Me? I’m a fan of scientists, yes, but I’m a fan of them because of their defense of science. I’m a bigger fan of science. Science to me is like baseball when a pitcher is pitching a perfect game. Even if the pitcher is on some other team, I’ll still cheer for him to have the perfect game. I’m a purist in that sense with baseball. With science, it’s the same thing. Show me a vaccine is not safe (i.e. its risks are higher than its benefits) and I will not support it. I’ll even advocate against it, like Dr. Offit has done (next to the last paragraph here).