THE STRIKE ZONE
Sometimes Sports, Sometimes Sportsmanship
Competition Depresses Empathy
There have been plenty of times while I've been umpiring a baseball game when I began to wonder if the coaches know that a human being is officiating this game.
In other words, do coaches/players/fans understand that the official is a human being with a soul, a spirit, emotions, a will, experiences, and value? Does that one coach who constantly bickers with me know that I'm not just an object? Does that coach know that, as soon as I walk off the field, I have to go home to my life and my loved ones and deal with the realities of life?
On the other side of things, when I watch a game, am I conscious of the fact that those on the field have to do the same thing?
Look at it this way: although it does not necessarily fall under the umbrella of competition, do we realize that those who are involved in the creation of a movie are also human? When we watch the movie, do we realize that actors and actresses are on the screen portraying characters, not the actual fictional (or factual) character? When I'm watching Star Wars, do I see Luke Skywalker on the screen? Or do I know that Mark Hamill is on the screen portraying Luke Skywalker? If the character does something I don't like (see Episode VIII), is it the fault of Luke Skywalker? Is it the fault of Mark Hamill? Maybe it's the fault of the director, Rian Johnson! Maybe it's the fault of the parent company, Disney! Maybe it's nobody's fault! Why am I so quick to need to place blame?
The point is that competition (or a vested interested thereof, especially when we are fans) suppresses our ability to empathize with others. If we are not careful, we see the opposing fan as an object, not as a human being. We see the official as a robot who is supposed to get every call right. We see our opponent as the enemy who must be defeated. We don't see any of these parties as people we might run into at the bar later, possibly trying to just unwind with a drink after a stressful day who may just need the company of another person to feel loved.
Baseball player, umpire, coach, fan; professional musician; founder, President & CEO of The OSIP Foundation, Inc.