Sports are no longer games played for fun. They are businesses that involve many millions
of dollars, and that have created three harmful myths in America: that they build bodies,
build character, and are a sure way to success.
Sports may build bodies, but they may also tear them down. The rough contact and
demanding schedules of major sports result in more and more serious injuries each year. Dave
Meggyesy says in his book Out of Their League that "few players can escape from college football
without some permanent form of disability." In the nonplaying ranks there are millions of fans
who watch both professional and college football, baseball, basketball, and ice hockey, as well as
other sporting events on TV night after night, season after season. The most exercise they get is
walking from the living room to the refrigerator and back. Occasionally they will go to a game in
person, but even then they only sit.
For most Americans, games sell beer rather than build
Sports do not necessarily build good character. Many coaches want absolute obedience
from their players, sometimes off the field as well as on, and they act with the power of dictators.
Jerry Kramer, analyzing his world champion Green Bay Packers, described the regimentation:
"We've all been disciplined and indoctrinated and brainwashed." He quoted head coach Vince
Lombardi as telling his runners "'you care nothing for anybody or anything.'" This same attitude
can be seen on neighborhood fields where local coaches put their twelve-year-olds through
professional-style drills, yells, and exercises. The philosophy in both cases is to win at any cost,
and there is little chance for a player to develop individuality. The rules of ice hockey encourage
violence, announcers laugh at descriptions of basketball as a "noncontact" sport, and baseball still...