The opiate of the masses
I went to a YMCA camp when I was 10-years-old. Camp Kitchi, operated by the Midland YMCA, is on Beausoleil Island in Georgian Bay, north of Toronto. I attended only one time - for two weeks in the summer of 1972. God how I hated it! The criminally neglected facilities, the criminal behavior of the staff, the wretchedness of it all, the barbarism - and the boredom!! My experience at Camp Kitchi, plus my experiences in mandatory P.E. in elementary and middle school permanently put me off organized sports, and outdoor activities both. Throughout the 1970s I went ‘camping’ with my family in our bus, a 9-meter-long recreational vehicle. That was okay because we had the civilized comforts of home with us and we were together as a family. I have many good memories of the bus. My father was a great camper when he was a child. A scout and a Queen Scout (the equivalent of an Eagle Scout in America), the bus was Dad’s baby, a substitute for the Georgian Baycottage that I suppose he could have afforded. Even now, no one can remember my father without also thinking of The Bus.
My older brother, on the other hand, loved Camp Kitchi, and he went for six years in a row, for the entire month. (In those days, the camp had a two-week program and a four-week program for boys, and then two other similar programs for girls. Today, I think the camp offers programs for boys and girls simultaneously. I’m not sure about it but, frankly, and I don’t care. Frankly, Camp Kitchican go to hell as far as I am concerned. No, Camp Kitchi is hell. I should launch my own website, my own anti-Kitchi blog, and recruit contributions from other like-minded, former Kitchi inmates. We could very well be the silent majority.)
I reject and oppose all organized sports. But, I’m all for throwing/kicking a ball around just for fun, or going outside for a walk - worshipping the glory of God in the wonder of nature sort of thing. But I oppose all organized team events wherein the goal is the organized defeat and humiliation of opponents through a system of accumulating points by adhering to rules. I mean, that is an inappropriate and immoral model of human relationships, and if a person wants to have relationships like that with other people, then you might as well take a gun and blow their brains out. Defeat means defeat, doesn’t it? If your intention is to defeat people then you might as well do the real thing and do it right, not play a game as a proxy for, or a metaphor of aggressive conflict. So, naturally, I reject the portrayal of sports as a safety value for testosterone-fueled aggression, I reject the portrayal of competition as a virtue, and I reject the empty claims of the socially redeeming personality values claimed for organized sport. Not only were defeat and humiliation my main and enduring experience of childhood physical activity - and playing sports out of doors - when I was growing up, but the transparency of the virtuous claims made on its behalf rob them of credibility.
In my mind I usually associate outdoor summer camps with organized group events - sports, eating, sleeping, and bathing together, etc. - which I also oppose more often than not on the principle that group/team dependence and cooperation is less of a virtue than independence, individual effort and self-reliance, solitary effort, and solitude. Now, my 8-year-old son, Ken, is enjoying baseball these days. It’s good for him because he likes it and needs an outlet for all his energy. I will let him discover by himself, in time, how despicable and immoral - not to mention silly - sports are. My daughter, Emma (13), by contrast, does nothing in her free time except watch cable TV at the grandparents’ apartment. She used to do karate when she was an elementary school student, but she gave it up to attend Japanese “juku,” or cram school, for extra study in language and math. My wife and I are currently considering, but not yet looking for a new outside activity for her. She says she wants to study karate again. We’ll see.
I hate the Olympic Games, for three reasons. First, because of my aversion to organized tream sports. Second, because of the common lie in the popular culture that the Olympics represent the best sporting achievement in the world, and that Olympic champions are the best in the world. Not so. The World Championships in each sporting event represent the height of achievement in the world for that event, and the world champion - who might, or might not also be the Olympic champion - is the properly recognized best. Third, because of the lie that the Olympics are about the peaceful coming together of the brotherhood of man in friendly, harmonious competition. The truth is that the Olympics are anything but. They are a business venture of European origin, philosophy, and design for which nations vie out of immoral pride. The Olympics are a useless waste. The last time I watched an Olympic Games on television was in the summer of 1976 when Montreal hosted the event. I was 14 and too young to understand better. I remember gymnast Nadia Comminici, who was/is my age. I loved her in those gym tights.
So, what of people who sincerely profess enjoyment of camp and camping, and playing sports and participating in team events? Are they wrong? Well yes, but that is too harsh to go around saying in public. A person could meet with an aggressive response. They are brainwashed.