Hank Green recently released a video titled “Sports are Dumb” (with a thumbnail that says “Sports aren’t dumb?”, to preface the content of the video), suggesting nerdy-types should attempt embracing sports more, a video of surprisingly bad quality compared to what typically comes from Hank Green. All in all, the video takes part in a recent trend of treating anti-sports academic types as having shallow, impulse reasons for their avoidance of sports, when there are multiple solid reasons for not partaking, or even being actively against, sports.
Arguments in the video are not very good. The video makes it seem like eventually generalized hand-waving will stop and a concrete reason for supporting sports will eventually be pronounced, but the hand-waving pervades the entire video punctuated by occasional not-very-justified raw thoughts. Let’s note the problems in the parts of the video that are points.
1. No one is required to give a reason for being uninterested.
Hank’s claim that it’s hard to rationalize being against sports is multiply problematic: there are good reasons to be against sports which Hank conveniently occludes by pretending he can’t come up with anything, but even before this, people shouldn’t have to explain why they are uninterested in something.
Imagine if someone asked you if you wanted to come see the movie tonight, you said you weren’t interested, they asked you why, and you can’t come up with much beyond that you just didn’t feel like it, and that someone judged you for being unable to come up with a reason for lack of interest. Beyond the difficulty of translating gut instincts, the fact that there are usually too many things in the world one could be involved in, and not the opposite problem, means that the burden of justification should be on being interested in something, not being uninterested. “Caring about stuff is good” is an empty statement—there’s only so much care any particular individual can give, so giving more care to one thing is taking away care from another. People don’t have a deficit in things to care about; people have an excess. “You should care more” is never more than “You should care about this instead of that”.
2. There is good reason to not just be uninterested in but against sports.
Hank alludes to the experience many nerds have of being bullied by more athletic types, and claims lack of interest in sports is due to internalizing feelings against sporty types. As for lack of interest itself, there’s the above, but even on top of this, I claim both that (1) sentiments against sports are completely justified for academic types and (2) there are real-life, tangible ways in which the major sports harm society at large.