When you “stick to sports,” you are doing more than confining yourself to the field and the court. You are providing a way for people who may have diametrically opposed politics to share a beer at a bar discussing quarterbacks instead of executive orders. We should recognize this is valuable, particularly given that one of the factors that led to Mr. Trump’s rise is a market for outrage, on the right and the left, which acts as a consuming fire. There is always another inch to be won, another point to be defended, and this hyperpoliticization limits the space free from the culture wars Mr. Trump exploited to great effect.
In his new book, “The Art of Being Free: How Alexis de Tocqueville Can Save Us From Ourselves,” James Poulos recognizes the value these cultural outlets have for us in times of anxiety and tribalism. “When we’re alone, Netflix and smartphone binges give us a chance at play that’s safe from the craziness of other (real-life) people,” he writes. “And when we venture out into the world, team sports and infotainment and the other competitive fields of professional play entertain and divert us in ways that typically make us feel much less lonely.”
Bonding over sports, television, comedy, the latest Netflix series and more is healthy and valuable. President Obama’s farewell address in Chicago asked us to do as much: “If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try talking with one of them in real life.”