Have you seen this 8 minute film (commercial) for ESPN by the well-known filmmaker Errol Morris? It’s creatively done and reminds me of some his documentaries I’ve enjoyed: The Thin Blue Line, The Fog of War, and Standard Operating Procedure.
Here’s what I wonder about this: What did ESPN think I’d feel while watching? I imagine they were hoping for some laughs and identification with the diehard fans portrayed in the film. In fact I felt something closer to bemusement and pity. Also, is there any doubt that professional sports (including NCAA and especially the NFL) have become America’s civil religion?
5 thoughts on “Team Spirit by Errol Morris”
Awesome. I think a team can become a part of a person’s identity, and it’s becoming less and less weird to see things like this.
I tend to think of ‘Patriotism’ as America’s civil religion. Love of sports is just the equivalent Sunday worship service; elections are the less-frequent-but-just-as-regular Easter & Christmas services; and doing your patriotic duty by shopping/’stimulating the economy’ is civil religion’s version of tithing.
This is a symptom, not the root cause. (But dang, am I glad that Football Season is just around the corner!)
I think I’m following you Josh, but what about those who don’t consider themselves especially patriotic who are still passionate sports fans?
I watch that with an incredible range of feeling. In some ways, I identify with the stories of the fans and their desire to be identified with their teams for all eternity, even if they have bad taste in teams (except for the Orioles guy). But, on the other hand, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of… pity? revulsion? dread? dissapointment? I am not sure what.. we all want to be part of something bigger than we are, yet for so many we choose for that to be a sports team, rather than something that makes a significant difference to the world around us.
This was kind of disturbing to me.