My mornings begin with ESPN. There have been a handful of mornings when I don’t tune in — and those mornings have led to days that have ended poorly. My habitual and somewhat religious commitment to ESPN mornings isn’t so much definitive — it just kind of is.
Increasingly frequently while watching, I’m plagued with a rather disturbing thought. I do my best to squash it and am quickly swept up by the top plays of the day. I’ll do almost anything to avoid the question, because it’s terrifying: is it ethical to watch sports? Is it feminist to watch sports?
I don’t want to ask because I don’t want to deal with the answers. I am a sports fan, so what am I supposed to do with myself and my deep love for ball if watching sports is a moral misstep?
I’ve been avoiding this question for most of my life, and writing about the transformative power of sports since I learned to type. Sports can be transformative for society at large. They tend to do better around issues of race than gender. And there’s work to do around homophobia as well — but it’s work that is slowly, slowly happening.
But are sports in and of themselves a societal good? In other words — are they worth having?