If, for a moment, I set aside my deep and profound ambivalence towards sports, and my deeper hostility towards the programming and lessons that ‘professional’ sports is teaching the people who identify as fans… (gender dichotomy, competitive mindset, brown people as gladiators & white people the organizers, generally shoring up white supremacy and capitalistic power-over economics and oppression… etc etc etc…) If I put all that on the shelf for a moment, and look purely at the question “WHY?”… I can learn some intriguing lessons.
The idea of ” the 12th Man” is a powerful magic spell. Oh gosh, I’m talking about magic again… so there’s a repeating theme… MAGIC IS EVERYWHERE IN FRONT OF US ALL OF THE TIME. We only need to learn how to See it and understand its uses. Politicians, advertisers, the propaganda news media, these are groups who have never, for one second forgotten how to use magic. And they use it to manipulate our minds and our behaviour. I mean think about it… who has the most money in the world? Corporate advertising agencies. Who is the most concerned with manipulating human behaviour? Corporate advertising agencies. Who has the slickest, most advanced research technology in the art of manipulating human behaviour? Corporate advertising agencies. Who came up with the idea of the “12th Man” campaign? A corporate advertising agency (okay, that’s an assumption, but it seems like a reasonable one). The literal power of the “12th Man” campaign is palpable. The power and impact of having so many people focus, with the belief that their effort can actually affect the outcome of the game… The players are literally our demi-gods, like Roman Gladiators. Like the gods of ancient Rome embodied by physical people, American football players are adored and worshipped. And the game of football is assumed to be a universal activity, family friendly, engaging all comers.
This is the literal power and impact of MEDITATION. Aside from whatever special skill this team and coach might have, they have tapped into the power of having every fan FOCUS ENERGY FOR THEM. With the message that the energy of the fans is as important as having an extra player on the field… In some ways, this is the theory that Democracy is based on, but we have lost the positive way of engaging people, making them feel important. American Democracy has degenerated into a million different layers of “THESE PEOPLE ARE DOING IT WRONG!!!” I’m tired of focusing my energy on telling people that they’re being bad. I want positive, affirming images of a bright and shining future. A future where every child is born wanted and loved, recognized as a sacred teacher with unique lessons to share. A future where diversity is not just tolerated, but celebrated and worshipped. A future where each person is an autonomous nation unto themselves. I want festivals of awesomeness.
Activists & changemakers WISH they (we) could access the kind of unified attention harnessed by the Superbowl. We daydream about it, and when events like the Superbowl happen, some of us post snide images about how, “if only… people cared that much about something that actually mattered, maybe we wouldn’t be in such a mess!”
There is a Dr Who season finale where the Doctor’s nemesis, the Master (an evil Time Lord) has taken over the entire earth and enslaved all of humanity. The Doctor (the good Time Lord) is reduced to a chirping old bird man in a cage. Of the Doctor’s team of helpers, only one of his companions, the indomitable Martha Jones, escapes direct imprisonment on the Master’s flying citadel. She travels the world, by grace of tools given her by the Doctor, under the cover story of searching for the hidden parts of a gun that can kill the Maser; but really she is telling people stories of the the Doctor, telling people that he is their saviour, their protector, that he is watching over them, and always has. As more and more people whisper the name “Doctor”, praying for him to save them, focusing energy, intention, and hope through the idea of this character, he becomes an avatar for all of that collective energy and he suddenly has the power to regenerate himself and preform miracles. He has the power to save the human race.
To strip the story down into a framework that could be recognized in many different stories, the god/demi-god character literally has miraculous power, but those powers are LENT to them by the attention and adoration of the masses.
Sportsball is teaching us about the power of positive, collective meditation. Those men, those boys, they embody the collective energy that we feed them. They become, quite literally, demi-gods. Unfortunately, as happens with many celebrities, the flame of stardom burns hot, and it can buuurn. But it is teaching us that the individual persons playing on the field often matter less than the focused energy and intent of the fans and the worshippers.
That’s why ancient gods, more accurately the ruling elite who claimed god-hood, demanded such exacting worship from the people of the ancient world. That’s why the buildings and institutions of our government are built in the image of Greek temples. Whether it was done on purpose or not, bureaucracy is a formal structure for exacting worship, time, obedience from people. It’s in the reverence for the judge in the courtroom, and the authority of the talk show host on TV.
And how do we fight that? How do we change it? For me, it begins with convincing the people that we owe our worship to no one but ourselves and the land that nourishes us. And it begins with knowing that we may occasionally choose a champion to represent us, because some work can only be done by a single person or a small group. But we remember that those people are working on borrowed power. We recognize that ultimately, all power is borrowed.
For me, it begins with creating a positive vision to work towards! You want us to change??? Make it fun, dammit. Make it engaging. Make it accessible to the whole family. Make people feel like we have the power to move mountains, and we WILL. But just like spirit doesn’t recognize the “no, not, don’t” when we pray, our souls don’t recognize them either. And we create what we imagine. As within, so without.