Photo Credit: iamhannah
Let us begin with the defining features of a soap opera: 1) it tells the tale of a group of entities and their interactions, 2) the story continues ad infinitum with no clear purpose or resolution, 3) the audience has an unusually strong emotional reaction to it, 4) the audience lives vicariously the triumphs and defeats of actors playing characters which have nothing to do with the audience members, 5) it is purely for entertainment, but taken far too seriously i.e. special magazines detailing the plot twists. The plots of soap operas generally involve domestic affairs such as family, relationships, illness, career, and evil twins. Their target audience is housewives for whom these things are also major concerns. How would one create a soap operas for the average man who cares about beer, physical violence, tits, beer, and the dominance of the alpha male? The answer is obviously sports. However, watching sports need not be this way. Here’s how to tell if a person treats sports like a soap.
- They care about the journey of a team, the different cities that hosted it, how many championship games it has played, when it changed management, etc.
- They know a lot of trivia about individual players to the point of arguing with other fans about it.
- They get overly excited or disappointed and express it invariably with violence.
- They are not athletic enough to play, but they wear athletic gear with team logos and talk constantly about how they used to play.
- They listen to or watch sports talkshows where other people talk about watching a game.
- They read ostensible autobiographies of semi-illiterate sports stars ghostwritten by some nobody.
- They care about the score of a game even if they don’t watch it.
- They are fans of a specific team or player because that team or player lives near them.
This last point deserves some further comment. All sports teams have a region from which they are based. If it is a franchise, that region is chosen because it has the most potential for profit. Being a fan of the Titans because you live in Nashville is stupid. It’s like celebrating Starbucks and hating Pete’s because Starbucks opened a franchise location on your block. They’re there to get your money, they don’t represent you and have nothing to do with you. National teams are no different; a group of manchildren playing ball and arguing with the ref does not represent the country they are from. A legitimate reason to follow someone specific might be a black American living under segregation who is a fan of Jackie Robinson. Another is a person, such as myself, who is proud of the US Women’s soccer team because they believe that the team’s success demonstrates the strength, independence, and equality of our women as superior to other countries’ cultures. Or perhaps one player plays the game with extraordinary honor and maturity and we wish to laud them for it. In short, if one cares about the game for the game’s sake then it’s sports. If one cares about the players or the teams or the stats or the score or which high school the back-up pitcher for Toronto got drafted from then it’s a soap opera for men.