Return on investment

After watching a world cup game today with some Latin American friends, I mentioned a theory I had formed years ago, on the day I first attended a soccer game at Rio de Janeiro’s famed MaracanĂ£ Stadium.

Seeing more than a hundred thousand testosterone fueled young men venting their energy at once, I had theorized that spectator sports may have developed as a way to channel the rage of young men — an emotion which can be so useful when a tribe is at war, but which can, if not redirected, become so destructive at other times.

One of my Latin American friends said that she thought my theory made a lot of sense. “It’s too bad,” she continued, “that the U.S. does not embrace soccer. If it did, your country might be less inclined to go to war.”

If my friend’s theory is correct, imagine how much money our government could save by investing a few million dollars each year in promoting soccer proficiency among children and young people. If we could one day assemble a team that would be truly competitive in the World Cup, our interest in waging war might decrease.

And if our government were less inclined to declare wars based on questionable evidence and logic, we might be able to reduce our national defense spending by billions of dollars per year.

That sounds like a pretty good return on investment.

4 thoughts on “Return on investment”

  1. I am German and Germans love soccer, as you might know. We have a great soccer league with a huge problem. We have brutal fights between fans, before (sometimes even during) and after the games.
    This is ending up in costs for the government to “coordinate” the fans through the police force. The channelling of rage doesn’t work at all. Oh, we are not inclined to go to war, but this is for other reasons as you might know, too.

  2. Then again, maybe it is working.

    The fights are happening between fans, rather than more generally in society. Given that Germany has a self-imposed moratorium on waging war, it is possible that the violence around soccer (and therefore perhaps largely confined to soccer) is serving as a safety valve for young men who are not recruited by their government to become warriors.

    Violence is never pretty, but in this case, it’s possible that it is serving a purpose.

  3. I don’t know. This kind of violence is scary and makes a lot of people not to go to games. Riots – and that is how I would call it – aren’t good. They may show the problems of a society, yes.
    Here is a good overview at about a part of the fights:
    Maybe when you see the dimension of the problem, you might change your mind.

  4. Been there done that. Its an old theory. As for the person who wondered why Americans did not do this more and thus not go to war, one answer is that Americans do not go to war to work of aggression, they go to war to fight against evil and support good, as they see it.

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