Saturday, 30 January 2016

Sport grows in popularity as workplace control declines?

Though professional sport has been with us for a long time its rise to saturation prominence in daily life and the media has been a long time coming. And that this comes at a time when, if obesity rates are anything to go by, more and more everywhere are watching more and doing less deserves maybe a few moments of reflection, not even the fourteen minutes of exercise being relentlessly promoted on TV by one of the many new get fit quick gadgets. The attraction,as argued by a recent book [National Pastime by Stefan Szymanski] on football (aka soccer), the world's most popular professional game, may well be that as our lives get more controlled, sports is one of the few areas left where a degree  of surprise is still available for free.

The "degree of"  here is important given the  rampant fixing of games like tennis recently reported. But the modest surprises provided by sport -  modest because the  same bunch of  teams usually win, and lose [classsic example, Toronto's own remarkably unsuccessful Maple Leaf hockey team] - should  serve as a wake-up call about arguably the only truly sustaining source of excitement and fulfilment in life: self-determination. And given that most of us in 2016 spend much, if not most, of our time at work, that means workplace determination. The number  of  workplaces in North America with serious worker participation, let alone worker control, especially as rates of unionization have been dropping  for over 30  years, is very small. Unless participation grows, the need for vicarious control and distraction through sport is likely to become more addictive  and, like most addictions, ultimately self-defeating as need grows and benefits tank.                      

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