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Sports: The opiate for the masses?

“Die Religion ist das Opium des Volkes” or “Religion is the opiate of the people” or more commonly rendered, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.” Perhaps you’ve heard that saying before. It was a prolific thought of 20th century philosopher Karl Marx. By now, you may be wondering what the author of “The Communist Manifesto” has to do with sports. Here’s the thing — he has absolutely nothing to do with it. However, his quote, my opening sentence, does. “Religion is the opiate of the people” may have been true in the 20th century, but in today’s ever secular society, I believe the truer statement would read “Sports are the opiate of the masses.”

People have become addicted to sports. As if self-medicating, they eat, breathe and sleep sports. A nation of independent, self thinkers has turned into a hoard of zombie-like creatures who moan and groan only for sports. It’s turned our favorite pastime into a multibillion dollar industry which takes up more than just our free time. Sports has networks dedicated purely to it, playing recaps, talk shows, games — anything you can think of sports-related 24/7.

Here’s what really bothers me — players’ salaries. These guys (and select ladies) get paid MILLIONS of dollars to play sports. Back in high school and grade school people paid to let their children play sports, but now, in epic proportions, the tables have turned. So maybe you’ve begun saying how “they train their whole lives and should be fairly compensated,” and while that’s fine… no one forced them to train their whole lives. People are struggling, working sometimes three to four jobs to make ends meet, and I think it’s blasphemous to have people make millions for playing a game. It’s truly sickening.

Speaking of sickening, we stand idly by as numerous players are charged with sexual assault, drug charges, domestic violence and other transgressions. Sports, the NFL especially, breeds an environment which lends itself easily to that atmosphere. Take, for example, Joe Mixon, who played football in my home state of Oklahoma. In 2014, Mixon was involved in an “incident” in which he punched a woman in the face, breaking her jaw and requiring surgery. He pled guilty, getting a one-year deferred sentence, and underwent counseling as well as 100 hours of community service. Then in 2016, he was suspended for one game after receiving a parking violation to which he responded by ripping it up and throwing it into the female parking attendant’s face, all the while trying to intimidate her. Flash forward to 2017, Mixon was drafted second round by the Bengals, where he still plays.

In the end though, this is what they want. It’s all a distraction. A distraction from the real world, the troubles, trials and tribulations. Dare I say an opiate for the masses?

All of that being said, sports and its stars have done tremendous good. Like all the charities started, children visited in hospitals, money raised and a platform of social change created that had been previously unattainable. But outside of that? You be the judge.

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