Thoughts from Dr. Joe: It's just a game, folks!

June 12, 2013|By Joe Puglia

I have this recurring nightmare reflective of my persnickety perspective on American sports. You know who Barabbas is? He's the villainous character in the biblical story of Christ's passion that Pontius Pilate releases instead of Jesus. Barabbas is in my nightmare and it goes like this.

I'm sitting in Starbucks writing the Great American Novel when suddenly I'm commandeered and whisked away to the post-apocalyptic nation of Panem, formerly known as La Cañada. (To have some idea of what I'm talking about, you must have read “The Hunger Games.” If not, I suggest you do.)

I am handcuffed, blindfolded and forced to face the Triumphant Sports' Boosters of Panem at Penelope's Café. Incidentally, these boosters in no way parallel the boosters who resided in the city formerly known as La Cañada.


I have been charged with aiding and abetting the pervasive philosophy that sports in America is symptomatic of a society with misplaced values.

“How do you plead, Dr. Joe?” they ask. Well, of course I plead guilty.

They began to feel sorry for me — it must be my puppy-dog eyes. Consequently, the boosters defer my sentence to the discretion of the citizens of Panem, formerly known as La Cañada. The Triumphant asks the citizenry, “Barabbas, or Dr. Joe; whom should I set free?”

The cry of the populace is overwhelming. “Barabbas,” they scream. “Give us Barabbas!”

I guess I'm up the old proverbial creek. I'm then taken to the arena of death, where I compete in gladiatorial combat with Katniss Everdeen, a misplaced citizen from District 12. However, the Triumphant had no idea that I've been through Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape training.

I am not a social crusader, but I believe that society is overindulgent relative to sports in America. Sports are the motion of entertainment, the epitome of America. However, anything that possesses such unfathomable greatness is not devoid of problems. The negative aspects are apparent in all levels of sports culture: hyper-competitiveness in youth sports, devastating injuries to young athletes, parents assaulting referees, steroid abuse, athletes being passed through the academic system, poor sportsmanship, athletes learning that violence and aggression are ways to address life's problems, and overinflated salaries. I can go on, but what's the point?

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