In defense of sport and entertainment

I’ve never been intensely motivated to participate in sport, but instead prefer to be a spectator. I like to cheer people on and I’m often amazed by their skills and determination. And I’ll admit that I go a bit crazy when the Olympic Games occur. I soak up as much of the competitions that I can.

Someone told me today that sporting events like the Olympics seem trivial in the wake of the people fighting disease and poverty in this area. In this person’s opinion, they have no real place in our lives.

Although I understand that I’m not interacting with those folks on a day-to-day basis and therefore seeing the desperation firsthand, I can’t agree with the statement.

Sport is often what keeps people fighting. One example is a weightlifter from Germany who fought hard for a gold medal in Beijing to honour his dead wife. I’m sure that training for the Games allowed him to deal with his grief in a healthy way instead of being consumed by it and unable to go on with life.

I’m not saying the salaries of professional athletes make sense to me – why are so many millions of dollars being spent on them when the Canadian health care system and our military suffer for money? At the same time, if nothing were spent on sport, we’d be missing an important part of our culture.

The same can be said of the TV and movie industry, which was also dismissed in the same conversation. We don’t need to be obsessing over the details of a movie star’s life, but the works that are produced generally have a beneficial effect on people.

It may sound like I’m oversimplifying the matter, but I think sports and entertainment are good for the soul. I’m not ashamed of the enjoyment I get from following the Olympics or watching a good movie.

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