By Chuck Baldwin November 10, 2010
The Roman poet Juvenal (circa 100 A.D.) wrote regarding the waylatter-day Roman emperors retained power and control over the massesthat were seemingly more than happy to obsess themselves withtrivialities and self-indulgences while their once-great-and-powerfulempire collapsed before their very eyes. He wrote:
“Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the Peoplehave abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handedout military command, high civil office, legions--everything, nowrestrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread andcircuses.”
I submit that a good many in America are, like Rome of old,carelessly frittering away their God-given liberties, foolishlyclamoring for nothing more than government handouts and never-endingentertainment. Millions and millions of Americans (especially males)are literally intoxicated with sports. Sports are no longer a greatAmerican pastime; they are now a great American obsession.
Mind you, this writer has been a sports fan all of his life. I beganplaying organized basketball in the fifth grade; I was on the highschool wrestling team; I played football in high school and college;and I ran track. Still today, I enjoy watching a good NFL game (yes,I’m still a Green Bay Packers fan), a good college game when theGators are playing, a good NCAA men’s basketball game (especiallyduring the tournament--even more so when the Hoosiers are in it), andany NBA championship series between the Celtics and Lakers (I root forBoston). And I even like to watch a round of professional golf once ina while (it helps me go to sleep when I’m trying to take a nap). Butnone of the above will interfere with anything that is important, andI am not going to plan my whole universe around any of it. If it isconvenient, I will watch. If it’s not, I will read about it in thesports section of the newspaper. And I’m certainly not going tospend my hard-earned money following any sports team (even those Ilike) all over the country like some rock band groupie.
I am not talking about sports in general; I am talking about the waymany American men have allowed sports to control and dominate theirlives. With many, sports are not just a hobby; they are a religion. Icannot count the number of conversations between men that I overhearin restaurants, airplanes, boardrooms, and, yes, even church houses,in which every man in the circle is literally consumed with all sortsof sports facts, information, and opinions. In many such discussions,these men will talk about nothing else. To these men, there isabsolutely nothing in the world more important than the latest sportsscore, announcement, or trade. NOTHING!
And there is also a very real psychological pitfall associated with aman’s intoxication with sports. I submit that an obsession withsports gives men a false sense of masculinity and actually serves tosteal true manhood from them.
For example, it used to be when men stripped their shirts off andpainted their faces, they were heading to the battlefield to kill thetyrant’s troops. Now they are headed off to the sports coliseum towatch a football game. A man’s ego and machismo was once used toprotect his family and freedom; now it’s used to tout battingaverages and box scores. The fact is, if we could get the averageAmerican male to get as exercised and energized about defending thehistoric principles upon which liberty and Western Civilization arebuilt as he is in defending his favorite quarterback or NASCAR driver,our country would not be in the shape it is in today.
The sad reality is that much of today’s masculinity is experiencedonly vicariously through a variety of sports teams and personalities.Instead of personally flexing our muscles for God and country, freedomand liberty, or home and hearth, we punch the air and beat our chestsover touchdowns and home runs (even though we had absolutely nothingwhatsoever to do with them ourselves). Instead of getting in the faceof these would-be tyrants in Washington, D.C., who are doingeverything they can to steal the American dream, we get in the face ofthe poor umpire who makes a bad call or the Little League coach whodoesn’t play my son enough. Our happiness, well-being, and mood arenot determined by anything personally achieved (or lost), but by whatothers accomplished (or didn’t accomplish) at the ball park. Whetherour children inherit a land of liberty and freedom does not seemnearly as important as whether they make the starting lineup on thefootball team.
Add to an epidemic obsession with sports the demand for more and morehandouts from Big Brother and the outlook for liberty is not good.Everywhere we turn, we seem to hear people clamoring for government togive them more and more. They expect government to supply their everyneed and meet their every demand. They then have the gall to turnaround and say, “God bless America: land of the free”?
Ladies and gentlemen, one cannot have it both ways. If we expectgovernment to be our supplier, we cannot expect that it will notbecome our master. Always remember this: government has nothing togive except that it first takes it from someone else. Every dollar andevery job that government gives is first taken from someone else.Furthermore, every job given to government is another freedom--andanother dollar--taken from the citizenry. Every government job bringswith it a restriction, a prohibition, a regulation, an inspection, afee, a tax, an assessment, etc. As government grows, freedom shrinks.As government spends, wealth shrinks. And as government hires,opportunity shrinks.
Most historians agree with Juvenal that the mighty Roman Empirecollapsed from within due to a morally reckless, selfish,pleasure-crazed, sports-obsessed, bread and circus society thatwillingly surrendered the principles of self-government to aninsatiable central government that, through perpetual wars andincessant handouts, destroyed a once-great republic. By all appearances, the bread and circus society has reared its uglyhead in America. And make no mistake about it: if the people of theUnited States do not quickly repent of this madness, the consequenceswill be just as destructive for our once-great republic as it was for Rome.
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