Shrinking The World

Talking to an older Virginia Tech football fan once, I learned that back in the 1970's, he would get the scores of Saturday VT games on the following Tuesday in the fine print of the sports section. There was no ESPN. The nightly news covered only local sports where he lived on the west coast.

With the first game of the season three weeks away, this past weekend, the 2005 edition of Hokies held the first intrasquad scrimmage of their summer practices. Sitting over a thousand miles away at my computer, I followed the action in Blacksburg via real-time play-by-play live updates. I gleaned enough information to know that 5th string freshman tailback Elan Lewis is going to be a star someday.

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Brian: Speaking of rational

Brian:

Speaking of rational ignorance naturally brings up the question: "Why do people vote at all?" which, if they are simply self-interested maximizers, they of course shouldn't be doing. The answer, as I said, was, "The same reason people cheer at sports games."

Doss: No, that is my point,

Doss: No, that is my point, and it is the proper response.
Matt:
your recent response was proper. Originally you didn't argue that the premise was incorrect, you simply begged the question. I'm happy now to respond to your points:

Doss: These desires are natural. I think one is hard pressed to say that tribalism and fanaticism are “constructs” given the manifest history of humanity from time immemorial.

Matt: The impulses are "natural" in a limited sense, sure. Murder, rape, pillage are all technically "natural." Clearly human nature is such a varied mixture of contradictory impulses that the appropriate question to ask is "what combination of circumstances will bring out the most positive characteristics of human nature." With that proper question in mind, I think the point is still quite adequate: an endeavor that encourages the nationalist mentality is one we should seriously question.

Doss: Given this I find it implausible to suggest that sports either incubates or exacerbates tribal impulses. You would have to show that sports enthusiasts are more likely to to engage in or apologize for mass violence, genocide, war, etc.

Matt: for one thing, this is probably not very hard to show. I don't have any data on this (and it's possible that such data doesn't exist) but my guess is that there'd be a correlation between hardcore sports fandom and apology for violence and war (i.e. supporting Bush.) It also seems highly intuitive that sports programs in High school (featuring "stay true to your school" mentalities) are at least analagous to unwavering statism, but there's probably a causal effect as well. The is a heavy duty psychology question, but there's some evidence to show that as children we tend to prefer games with a high level of luck (so that anyone and everyone can win) and games without clear winners and losers. One study even indicated that young chilren were undisturbed when a game's rules were changed such that the loser actually won. That doesn't prove that the desire is natural, but it lends some credence to the idea that passionate "my team must win at all costs" indoctrination (pep rallies anyone?) has a corrupting effect.

Doss: That, of course, has been more Chomsky’s field (justifying, celebrating, then denying the Cambodian holocaust/killing fields, for example) than, say, the Superfans.

Matt: You're barking up the wrong tree here. There's not a case to be made about Chomsky's take on the cambodian genocide, in fact Chomsky's book sought to correct the CIA statistics which underestimated the number of people killed by Pol Pot (the CIA putting the number at about 100,000 while Chomsky cited more serious sources which put the number much higher.) The root of the smear campaign was Chomsky's insistence (which is quite correct and emminently defensible) that the Us carpet bombing of Cambodia caused a level of starvation that should lead scholars to attribute a fraction of the deaths to the american war effort.

Doss: The desire for tribal identity and to anathemise the alien other is, unfortunately, a human universal.

Matt: Now here I think you're quite wrong as well. It's just as true that bonds of solidarity and mutual aid are human universals and as such the proper question is, again, which aspects of human nature should we attempt to emphasize.

Doss: THUS it is best to direct those desires into harmless outlets, such as football or sports, rather than adopt a pose that one is above all of this (when we’re certainly not).

Matt: then I suppose you'll demonstrate that supporters of sports are less likely to justify violence and war?

Doss: (BTW anyone who carries water for the Khmer Rouge while claiming to be in league with the oppressed of the world is most certainly a tool; and ‘tool’ would seem to be too generous/charitable an appelation)

Matt: I couldn't agree more, and perhaps you could direct your smear campaign toward the author of the CIA report which underestimated the atrocities and provided support in the west for Khmer Rouge sympathies. You might also choose to criticize the Us government for arming the Khmer rouge gorillas along the cambodian-Thai border to fight against the Vietnamese "occupation" of Cambodia (which ended the Pol Pot regime and which invasion we vigorously opposed.) But no, let's target an academic for "carrying water for the Khmer Rouge."

Matt

Scott, What does rational

Scott,

What does rational ignorance and sports have to do with one another?

Matt, No, that is my point,

Matt,

No, that is my point, and it is the proper response. These desires *are* natural. I think one is hard pressed to say that tribalism and fanaticism are "constructs" given the manifest history of humanity from time immemorial. We *evolved* as tribal hunter gatherers, and where hunter gatherers have bumped up against each other, you've inevitably had murder & violence from one tribe to another (see: New Guinea lowlands). North & South America, Africa, etc, no place with tribal settings has been immune to near constant tribal warfare (albeit on the personal "raid and murder" variety vs. state level mass warfare).

Given this I find it implausible to suggest that *sports* either incubates or exacerbates tribal impulses. You would have to show that sports enthusiasts are more likely to to engage in or apologize for mass violence, genocide, war, etc. That, of course, has been more Chomsky's field (justifying, celebrating, then denying the Cambodian holocaust/killing fields, for example) than, say, the Superfans. The desire for tribal identity and to anathemise the alien other is, unfortunately, a human universal.

HENCE the proper response to your assertion is to point out that the premise is incorrect.

THUS it is best to direct those desires into harmless outlets, such as football or sports, rather than adopt a pose that one is above all of this (when we're certainly not).

(BTW anyone who carries water for the Khmer Rouge while claiming to be in league with the oppressed of the world is most certainly a tool; and 'tool' would seem to be too generous/charitable an appelation)

Doss: (a) blow up imaginary

Doss: (a) blow up imaginary soldiers in video games, conquer the world in various mass army simulations, and indulge out atavistic “nationalist” tribalist mayhem in the stands for football games, or

(b) do all of these things in real life?

Matt: I think you're assuming that these are natural desires that are somehow sublimated by sports, while I'm arguing that these desires are not natural and are rather exacerbated by sports enthusiasm. So it's not really a response.

Doss: Chomsky, aside from being a tool, has it completely backward if he thinks denouncing football et al will make us a better society.

Matt: I don't know what you mean about Chomsky being a tool (of the man, perhaps?). I think you're also severely misconstruing the point which is about the diehard support of a team, not the game itself. Football shouldn't cease (I love football and wouldn't want it to cease, and Chomsky's a basketball fan) but the rabid support of a team, the ¨we will protect this house¨ mentality is certainly akin to rabid nationalist fanaticism and should be questioned as such. Maybe Micha would like this argument since he hates sports.

Matt

Brian, that doesn't sound

Brian, that doesn't sound like the truest of dichotomies.

I was talking with one of my economic professors about rational ignorance once. He told me, that as far as he could tell, people vote in elections for the same reason they cheer at sports games.

Oh, and GO HOKIES!!! ARRR!!!

Oh, and GO HOKIES!!! ARRR!!! :twisted:

Matt, Should we: (a) blow up

Matt,

Should we:

(a) blow up imaginary soldiers in video games, conquer the world in various mass army simulations, and indulge out atavistic "nationalist" tribalist mayhem in the stands for football games, or

(b) do all of these things *in real life*?

Chomsky, aside from being a tool, has it completely backward if he thinks denouncing football et al will make us a better society. We should channel our atavistic tribalism to something completely harmless, like sports teams (unless you're a soccer hooligan, and thank goodness we play real football in the US and dont have any of that, at least in particular :cool:) rather than try and all be monks who, through simple force of will, deny and repress our inner barbarian. That way leads to both madness and badness.

Go Hokies! I can't wait for

Go Hokies! I can't wait for the season to start...

Matt makes some good points, but they will be lost on me when I start consuming mass quantities of eats and adult beverages at the first tailgate, then stroll over to Lane Stadium to listen to the roars of 65,000 other Hokie fans...

I love sports, especially

I love sports, especially football (though pro and not college) but I've been pretty convinved by Chomsky's "statist" take on our passions for the game. Do you know it? The idea is that having a "team" is very much akin to this sort of nationalistic impulse people have for the state. In fact it may be a a sort of incubator for such feelings of nationalism, given that we're first taught in High School to root for our "team" and not for a good game or something. Why should we care what group of professional athletes comes out victorious, so long as the game is enjoyable to watch? I'm not sure why. I know that I do care, but that may be indefensible.

Matt

Matt- It is not incumbent

Matt-

It is not incumbent upon anyone to justify voluntary organized activity that violates no-one's rights.

More importantly, millions of rabid sports fans in the 1990s were just as conspicuously NOT calling for Empire, war, genocide, etc. Americans have been rabid organized sports fans for over a century and the level of intensity seems quite independent of any policy outcomes- Americans fought wars before the rise of baseball & football as national pastimes, and were pacific and isolationist during the heydeys of both sports (with baseball fans being even more rabid in the 20s, 30s, & 40s than now).

So if we're to accept that fandom leads to nationalism which leads to invasion, empire, genocide, etc, we'd have to show that with the rise of professional sports leagues (of any kind) there is a concomitant rise in American state violence around the world. I do not believe there can be shown such a correlation. Again, 90s fandom for sports is pretty nutso-insane, but even with clear and present dangers around the world nobody was much into war.

Trying to pin sport fans' support for Bush to your hypothesis ignores the fact of 9/11, which seems to be a rather heinous oversight.

Pep rallies, "be true to your school", etc, are somewhat akin to fascist/communist methods of "be true to the state" and "support the dear leader", excepting for the fact that no officials at HS and Colleges are looking to beat, maim, or execute those who do not show the proper amount of fervor.

Furthermore, such passionate "my team must win at all costs" is certainly not limited to sports fans, but seems rather common amongst "progressive" student causes (who will vandalize & steal newspapers & publications that print ideas they disagree with, for example). Singling out sports for a phenomenon that crosses all lines of activity and ideology seems misguided at best.

I am not wrong that demonizing the alien other is a human universal. It is plainly (and fairly uncontroversially among anthropologists) a trend that cuts across every single human culture. It is ingrained very, very deeply in our cognitive makeup. That said, it is also true that we have innate tendencies to mutual aid (amongst the in group) and solidarity (amongst the in group). If these are good things (and they are) surely they are also enhanced by sports fandom- making the net effect just as surely in doubt (my bet- neutral at best).

As for showing that hardcore fans are 'less likely' to excuse violence or call for state violence, I can point to dozens of hardcore Hokies fans who are equally rabid in their Bushheit and antiwar passion. Just a few moment's reflection should have led you to realize that intensity of belief per se is no indication of or decisive factor for one particular ideology or another.

The more one thinks about it, the more one comes to suspect that this is simply a thinly disguised swipe at an activity that is perceived to draw attention and funds away from "serious work" at universities, rather than any principled stand for a better society.

It is not incumbent upon

It is not incumbent upon anyone to justify voluntary organized activity that violates no-one’s rights.
sure. I'm not calling for a ban on it but rather questioning the effects on the individual. If you say "hey it's probably a bad idea to hit yourself in the face with a rock", my replying "It is not incumbent upon anyone to justify voluntary organized activity that violates no-one’s rights" really seems to miss the point.

So if we’re to accept that fandom leads to nationalism which leads to invasion, empire, genocide, etc, we’d have to show that with the rise of professional sports leagues (of any kind) there is a concomitant rise in American state violence around the world. I do not believe there can be shown such a correlation. Again, 90s fandom for sports is pretty nutso-insane, but even with clear and present dangers around the world nobody was much into war.

Any serious historical analysis would have to include countervailing tendencies and so forth, such that it would be quite difficult to pinpoint a "broad tendency" in the populace. Any such analysis must also, by nature, beg the question as to whether circumstances were "justifiable" or not. Were we justified in being rabidly anti-german during world war one? That's not a question for stats, but the answer is no. How about world war 2? I'd say yeah, probably. I'm going to call this an "iron man" argument (as opposed to the straw man) in which an unneccesary but insurmountably huge challenge is suggested as the only way to prove a point. In this case, "to prove you're right, please provide me with an in depth analysis of the political support sports fans have given to interventionist US foriegn policy over the last century." If you've just created an entirely new fallacy of argumentation, and I've just named it, then we should team up and confuse the people of alt.logicfan.group

Trying to pin sport fans’ support for Bush to your hypothesis ignores the fact of 9/11, which seems to be a rather heinous oversight.
9/11 did not have the effect you're describing on the american populace. It also had almost no effect whatsoever on general government policy, foriegn or otherwise. "ignoring 9/11" as an argument is like a short cut past thinking.

Pep rallies, “be true to your school", etc, are somewhat akin to fascist/communist methods of “be true to the state” and “support the dear leader", excepting for the fact that no officials at HS and Colleges are looking to beat, maim, or execute those who do not show the proper amount of fervor.
surely you've read JS Mill's bit about Social Coercion in "On Liberty"? Nevertheless, this argument began at the individual level as an intuitive musing and this is precisely a relevant point in that regard. It IS akin, you're correct, and this is an excellent reason to assume that such behavior produces the hypothesized results.

Furthermore, such passionate “my team must win at all costs” is certainly not limited to sports fans, but seems rather common amongst “progressive” student causes (who will vandalize & steal newspapers & publications that print ideas they disagree with, for example). Singling out sports for a phenomenon that crosses all lines of activity and ideology seems misguided at best.

I don't think "vandalizing newspapers" is endemic to progressive student causes the way always rooting for "your" team is endemic to sports, and I doubt you do either. You are narrowly right though that this behavior absolutely dominates the realm of partisan politics, especially now. It's exactly one of the problems caused by such an approach to the world.

If these are good things (and they are) surely they are also enhanced by sports fandom- making the net effect just as surely in doubt (my bet- neutral at best).
thre is a social nexus created among sports fans, true, just as there was within the politbureau in Russia. A social nexus is hardly the same as mutual aid, as you imply. Increasing human bonds is a good, but it doesn't exist in a vaccuum. You might argue that prison creates strong interpersonal bonds and as such outweighs or counterbalances the bad of isolating them from society. The obvious reasons why such an argument is wrong apply in spades the to "sports friends can be friends who hate the enemy together" argument you've put forth.

As for showing that hardcore fans are ‘less likely’ to excuse violence or call for state violence, I can point to dozens of hardcore Hokies fans who are equally rabid in their Bushheit and antiwar passion. Just a few moment’s reflection should have led you to realize that intensity of belief per se is no indication of or decisive factor for one particular ideology or another.

Again, there's a narrow sense in which this is true (which I detailed above) but I think you're far off the mark. Perhaps a "moment's reflection" would have led you to reread our arguments above where we discuss Nationalism as the primary negative effect of such an ideology, not the "passionate holding of a belief" as you claim here. It's hardly worth mentioning that arguing over which of us knows more sports fans who either support bush or don't is clearly inapplicable to this point.

The more one thinks about it, the more one comes to suspect that this is simply a thinly disguised swipe at an activity that is perceived to draw attention and funds away from “serious work” at universities, rather than any principled stand for a better society.

And now you're impugning my motives? I happen to love football and basketball, thank you. My argument clearly supports the nuetral enjoyment of sport rather than the elimination of it, as no argument is given for sports' inherent "badness" (because I think the few which is exist are inconsequential.) I really feel like the arguments are twisting and turning here- I'm having a hard time negotiating your position other than "Matt's wrong." Do sports actively decarease nationalism as you claim? does sports fandom increase mutual aid? Or is it a bad, but only a bad within the context of a society which promotes this in many facets as you seem to imply in paragraph 6?

Matt