Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

College Football Fan

May 31st, 2011 by G.

I am a college football fan.


I am also a conservative. If you’d ask me, I’d say that there’s no real connection between those two identities. I’d be wrong, it appears.

I’m not a free-will sceptic, exactly. But more and more I wonder if our real choices, apart from the odd Abrahamic trial, aren’t choices we consciously make.

Maybe we don’t read scriptures and pray to steel our will for when temptation comes, because when temptation comes maybe it’s too late. The choice we’ll make then is already determined by who we are. Maybe we do it to infiltrate the mysterious inner man, so that when temptation comes we have no choice. We can’t help but doing good, because in some unknown way we have become good.

I have a hard time resisting temptation. If I’m seriously tempted, that is. But a great many things that ought to tempt me don’t. My will power does me little good. Weapons-grade Mormonism, the slow accumulation of social expectations and upbringing and daily, weekly reinforcement, that has done me a lot of good. It had made a great many things literally unthinkable.

Comments (16)
Filed under: Deseret Review | Tags: , ,
May 31st, 2011 07:53:20

May 31, 2011

It might have been good if I had absorbed some weapons-grade Mormonism before letting Tarkin turn that weapons-grade laser on Alderaan.

May 31, 2011

I wonder who, in the long run, is more to be envied; the person for whom it all comes naturally (relatively anyway) or the person for whom significant things do not come naturally. I strongly suspect it is the latter.

May 31, 2011

I’m not sure how it relates to the graphic, but I liked your post anyhow…

Kyle Mathews
May 31, 2011

I think “Path dependence” is the right idea to reference here.

I’ve thought a lot about this idea and completely agree, almost all of our choices are heavily constrained by our past decisions and the environment we’ve created for ourselves.

This has actually helped, in an odd sort of way, with dating. As a 20ish single Mormon male, it’s somewhat easy to get anxious about dating. But I’ve realized recently that even before I start dating someone or try to date someone that it’s almost inevitable what’s going to happen. Both of us are who we are and almost nothing I or she does can change what would happen if we meet and try to form a relationship.

A recent post I read is very relevant here – The Idealist-Tragedian Paradox

A teaser:

A key schism in the universe of ideas concerning the question of how humans should live their lives is the one between idealist and tragic views. Let’s call the two associated types of people Idealists and Tragedians (a safe overload of the term in theater).

Idealism is based on a belief in the perfectability of humans. There are innumerable philosophies, religions and self-improvement theories that derive from the idealist stance. In fact the very term self improvement reveals the core idealist assumption that improvement is possible. The more recent term, personal growth, conveys that assumption even more clearly.

Idealist views (and strains of religion) represent mainstream thinking today, especially in America.

The tragic stance on the other hand, is based on the assumption that human beings are unchanging. That they have constant natures that are deeply limited and flawed, that cause them to fail in predictable ways (hence the connotation of tragedy). Historically, it has been been at least as popular as the idealist stance except during one very exceptional century: the twentieth. Thanks largely due to the global influence of American culture, and the dominance of idealism in America during the twentieth century, the tragic stance has been a minority stance.

Kyle Mathews
May 31, 2011

And fwiw, I view Mormonism (my view of it anyways) as solidly in the Tragedian camp. Stories such as Pres. Brown’s currant bush, Jeremiah’s clay vessel, being born again, and the broader ideas of trials and weaknesses all tell us that to be perfected we must be be destroyed and recreated in the image of Christ, multiple times if necessary.

[Ed.–sorry, our spam filter disliked your links. so you got filtered for a bit]

Adam G.
May 31, 2011

Psycho M.,
I have rational or at least conscious reasons why I’m a Republican. I have conscious reasons why I’m a football fan. Those reasons don’t overlap. Yet . . . there is a very significant correlation between being a football fan and a Republican.

So, either I’m an outlier or my conscious reasons aren’t the whole story.

Cousin KM,
very apropos. I too have discovered the liberating power of fatalism. It’s even, in many cases, true. Especially for dating. Though scientific evidence is lacking, I’m still convinced that falling in love is at least 5 parts pheromonal.
You are quite correct that the Mormon view that mortality is *necessary* for our progression strongly implies that our salvation is not just a matter of choosing God thumbs up and thumbs down but that we are internally pretty messed up and need to be battered for awhile. We can’t just check the God box because our hands are crippled. Some rough physical therapy is in order.

May 31, 2011

Overall then, if sports fans trend to conservative voters, then what does that say of the electorate that gave us a Dem president and both houses of congress?

Should conservatives continue to try to win elections by winning the hearts and minds of the electorate, or would it be easier to just instill a love/participation in sports in the upcoming generation?

May 31, 2011

The Idealist-Tragedian friction reminds me of the apparent paradox or friction between God’s absolute foreknowledge and our concept of agency.

Since we can’t (yet) step outside of our 3D-plus-temporal-time frame and peer back into it as Heavenly Father does, we can’t resolve the paradox of how our future choices are already viewed by Heavenly Father as having been completed.

I wonder if it relates to how Heavenly Father created all things spiritually before creating them temporally. I can acknowledge that it sounds right, but I don’t know how that works. I can somehow imagine how intelligences and spirit bodies exist (were created/organized) prior to them being clothed in a mortal frame, but that’s about it.

If there is a parallel, I wonder if we made all the choices of our present lives in a previous spiritual existence, and this mortal life is the execution of those choices, merely “proving” to ourselves who we are.

Heavenly Father’s foreknowledge of our choices leads me to believe that our mortal existence is not for His benefit; He already knows where we will end up at Judgement Day. Mortal life seems for our “benefit” or purpose, proving to ourselves what we will choose when the answers aren’t obvious.

Perhaps all the “special exceptions” (the mentally handicapped, those who die young) participate in mortality mainly for the benefit (other than to “receive a physical body” themselves) or testing of those left who are required to make choices throughout their lives.

May 31, 2011

I think we will find the truth in this case, is not at either extreme. In many cases, I think we underestimate the effects of the Fall, which is to say, the Tragedian outlook has a lot of applicability. However, this is really just a flavor of biological determinism. It does give meaning to Jacob’s warning that without the atonement, we would all become devils.

Now, I would hardly accuse the readers and writers of this august pinnacle of intellectual insight to think that is sufficient. We also have agency which is inseparably linked to both the Creation and the Atonement. We may not have all the choices we think we do, but we may also have more than we think – and I am hard pressed to tell you which is which. But I can discern both the severe weight and swift currents of the Fall and the use of paddle and oar that the Atonement gives, amidst the raging currents.

This seems to be a tremendously complex situation most of us never take above the kindergarten level, when we have graduate level material at our feet.

Adam G.
June 1, 2011

Books., Zen, those are both very insightful comments. This topic is bringing out the best from folks.

Mortal life seems for our “benefit” or purpose, proving to ourselves what we will choose when the answers aren’t obvious.

Since Mormonism asserts that the core of our identity is uncreated–eternal in fact–its possible that we also need the mortal experience of pain and ignorance to get us humble enough to allow God to fix what’s wrong with us.

June 2, 2011

You see no connection between liking college football and being conservative? Let me count the ways:

1) Conservatives are comfortable with a state of inequality, so long as it is arrived at naturally, and generally want to see excellence rewarded. If college football were dreamed up by liberals, they would continually change the rules so that Alabama would NEVER win another national championship.

2) Conservatives are more comfortable with divided loyalties, i.e. I am an American, a Mormon, a Republican, etc. The personal does not have to be political. Thus, I can be a passionate ASU fan and still get along with my Arizona roommate.

3) The results of a college football game are determined on the field, rather than predetermined by some politically correct metric. (Just watch any Hollywood movie and see how the pieties of the left are always rewarded.)

4) Football rewards hard work and self-sacrifice. The “Big Uglies” in the middle are glorified for their anonymity.

5) College football fans are largely male, as are conservatives. Not sure which way the causation runs, though.

I’m sure I can think of more if I have more time. I don’t think the correlation between conservatism and college football is random.

June 2, 2011

“College football fans are largely male, as are conservatives. Not sure which way the causation runs, though.”

I’m pretty sure I didn’t become male because I was conservative.

June 2, 2011

“I’m pretty sure I didn’t become male because I was conservative.”

Could’ve explained myself better. I meant that I don’t know whether being conservative causes men to like college football or if men independently like football and conservatism without any correlation between the two.

Adam G.
June 2, 2011

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that NFL, NBA, PBR, and NHL fans are also largely male, but they’re less conservative.
Curious too that LPGA fans are conservatish, while probably containing more females.

June 2, 2011

The test of any theory is how well and how accurately it makes predictions. Considering that the NBA was on the Democrat side, I am not seeing tremendous predicative power.

Of course, heathen that I am, it all looks the same to me.

June 3, 2011

“The test of any theory is how well and how accurately it makes predictions. Considering that the NBA was on the Democrat side, I am not seeing tremendous predicative power.”

What if maybe, just maybe, there are racial reasons why the NBA is an outlier?

Every sport on the left-hand side has some cultural quality that draws it leftward. Basketball, which does not require large fields to play, is urban in character, as is the left. The other sports on the left either appeal to folks with a European sensibility (soccer, tennis, GrandAm) or youngsters (WWE, Action sports). The only sports which don’t have a good explanation for being on the left side of the spectrum are Monster Trucks and minor league baseball.

Also, note that almost all major pro teams (other than the Green Bay Packers) are centered in urban areas, which dampens the conservative slant of sports generally. Whereas many, many more college teams are located out in the boondocks (College Station, Bloomington, etc.).

Finally, the survey is probably understating the conservative slant of everything on the list, if all they do is subtract dem from rep. Historically, Dem i.d. has a small advantage over Rep i.d., so a sport listed right at zero still has maybe a 5% slant over the population at large.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.