Saturday, January 30, 2016

IU Basketball Attendance and Catholicism

A few days ago I was driving around and listening, as I usually do, to sports talk radio.  (I love Catholic radio, and listen to it as well, but there's only so many times you can listen to a priest explain purgatory to a non-Catholic)


Anyway, Don Fischer, the voice of the Indiana Hoosiers, made some very interesting and relevant comments about Indiana basketball and their attendance.



The Indiana Hoosiers are in the midst of a tremendous season and are at or near the top of the Big Ten standings.  The state of Indiana (if you hadn't heard) worships basketball.


All these factors SHOULD point to one thing - gigantic home basketball crowds.  But Fischer was lamenting that the opposite is happening.


Despite the:
1) tremendous team performance
2) a state that worships the sport and the IU team

LESS and LESS people are coming to the games.

IU, despite success, has seen a significant drop in attendance




Now, what does that have to do with Catholicism?  I submit that it has a TON of relevance for us.


To me it is quite simple why less and less people are coming.  It isn't the BEST and most stimulating thing people can do with their time anymore.  Netflix, Amazon Prime, computer and video games and the internet in general allow a person to customize and tailor ALL their entertainment to EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT.  With the opportunity to be entertained however I dang well please always being one click away whilst sitting on my couch for 9 dollars a month...why on God's green Earth would I:

1) Get in my car
2) Drive to IU
3) Pay to park
4) Pay to get in the game
5) Pay for concessions
6) Watch over the course of 2 hours for what may or may not be an exciting and climactic finish
7) Drive home

Cost: $150 or so
Cost in time: a large part of a day


I can get 90% of the experience of being at the game by watching on TV, and I'm not wasting my time or money getting there.



My brother Matt took me to a Colts game about 10 years ago.  We went back to the rectory downtown to watch the 2nd half of the game.  We both agreed it was WAY MORE enjoyable watching the game from our couch!



When everything is about the emotional pleasure that I get out of something, when all I concern myself with is entertainment, then the first thing to fall off my radar is prayer/religion/Mass etc.

Mass is boring in that it is nearly the opposite of Netflix.  Mass is other people, it is driving there, it is making time for it, it is doing a bunch of things I wouldn't do on my own, it is music that I don't normally sing, it is silence which I don't normally prefer...


So this is why Don Fischer's comments made me smile: other cultural communal experiences, which were until very recently the best way for people to experience all the pleasurable emotions and feelings that they desired...communal sporting events are now falling off the map and taking a back seat as well, and so it is good, in my mind, to watch the "attend a sports game" crash and burn as well.

Why?

Because it puts more sharply into contrast the two approaches - in a few years either I am going to sit in a bubble of entertainment and pleasure and stimulation on my couch or I am going to try God's way and go outside myself and not make my own pleasure the only reason I exist.  I will choose the cocoon of "pleasure" or I will choose to be a human being.


The sooner the middle ground between these two alternatives melts away and vanishes, the better!