There’s a lot of terrible news in the world right now. It seems like every year, things get more complicated, more chaotic and more out of our control. It feels like we are, with each passing minute, slightly closer to destruction, slightly less hopeful.
Jast night, Iran retaliated against the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani by firing missiles at bases in Iraq housing U.S. soldiers. America sits on the brink of another potential war in the Middle East. A large chunk of Australia is on fire. Authoritarianism is on the rise the world over. Climate change and its forever consequences whir constantly and inevitably in the background. It feels like, and has for a while, that we’re on the brink of a bleak and inevitable hellscape of a future.
Despite all this, there’s a fair majority of us who have been able to go on with our regular lives. We get up, go to work, run errands, scroll Instagram while waiting at a light. On the surface, our day-to-day lives haven’t changed much, and that is an incredible privilege in itself. For the most part, we’ve been immune to the consequences of larger world catastrophes and have been able to get by with just offering up our money and collective empathy. We can care, from a safe distance, about the lives of soldiers of soldiers being shipped out, Puerto Ricans suffering through another natural disasters.
Through all this calamity, we’ve been able to sit back and enjoy all the things we usually do, like NFL playoff games and dumb, meaningless award shows. Enjoying these things is a monumental privilege, and one we shouldn’t take for granted. Sports, even when it’s political, has always been an escape, a place to find community and common ground. Right now, it feels like we need that more than ever. Sure, loyalties are divided along regional lines, but in comparison to tragedies happening on a global scale, good-natured rivalry is a thing we could use more of. There is something comforting about the performative malice of sports when there’s so much actual malice in the real world.
The world is a chaotic mess, and it’s only natural that people disengage when things become overwhelming. So, embrace the games you love, and take your breathers when you need to. Cheer, rant, rave, or even feel a little heartbreak. But then get back to engaging with the world, in whatever form that takes. Maybe it’s a little more kindness to your neighbors or maybe it’s marching in the streets. Sports, movies, silly award shows, are all diversions we can and should allow ourselves right now. Just don’t bury your head in the sand for too long. Chances are, things are going to be a lot worse when you look back up.