I would not be the first person to note the similarity between religion and sports, and there are serious studies about it. However, I believe more specifically that sports is the American religion. This is not to diminish the American affinity for religion as has been documented in opinion polls that show Americans to be more religious than inhabitants of any other country based on the percentage who actually attend religious services of all kinds on a regular basis.
However, I can honestly say that Americans do not always talk about religion. They do always talk about sports. I probably did not feel this as much as I have recently, since going to work in a military environment. Where I work, people either talk about their work or they talk about sports. On the edge, their might be some chatter about family, good places to eat or people's vacations, but the reference to sports is constant and continuous. Americans love their sports. They can get passionate about their teams or favorite players, can recite sports statistics and make predictions about the future outcomes of games and sports tournaments.
So you say, "Well, what would you expect from the high testosterone military?" While that question might contain an element of truth, it is important to note the degree to which the military is representative of the country at large, one which may be somewhat ignored by the intellectual and financial elites in our country. Just turn on your TV set and realize the number of channels and shows dedicated to covering sports, all sports. In some parts of the country, most channels are sports channels. Also, today you cannot walk into most bars without being flooded with big screen TVs with total coverage of whatever game is on at the moment. I walked into a "wing bar" the other day in Texas which had more big screen TVs than I have seen in any military "war room." They showed football, golf and tennis games going on simultaneously. OK, it was a "sports bar," but most bars are becoming sports bars.
Don't get me wrong, although I have never been very interested in sports, I have nothing against them. My problem is with any type of obsession. And the national obsession with sports is what concerns me. It concerns me more because sports occupies our waking hours to such an extent that it crowds out all other discussions and activities. I hardly go to a party at friends' homes where the TV is not on in a family room, sometimes with all the men gathered around and the women off in the living room socializing. I find myself with the women! Politics, world events, serious social issues are not discussed at all. Now take this to a national level and what we have is a national tendency to escape into sports as a way of avoiding discussing important national international issues. Well, maybe these are being discussed on college campuses, on PBS, CNN, on C-Span, on NPR and the BBC. Well, yes. That's where I go for environments where these things are discussed, but how many of us live in these spaces?
So what are the latest scores?