‘Dance Cams’ Ruin Sports in This Brave New World – The American Spectator

During a Monday night football game in 1972 with the Houston Oilers getting crushed by the Oakland Raiders, ABC’s cameras scanned the crowd to get some authentic shots of disgruntled Oiler fans. They landed on a man sitting alone with a pensive look of disgust on his face. Howard Cosell sarcastically commented that the man represented “a vivid picturization of the excitement” that Oilers fans were showing for their defeated team. Then the guy flipped off the camera.

Anybody who has been to a Red Sox game lately has inevitably encountered the organization’s great efforts to make sure nobody does the same and disrupts the blissful experience of fans at family-friendly Fenway. Fans are forced to enjoy themselves, no matter the outrageous cost of tickets and concessions, the tepid and soulless cheering, and the ever-present danger of being reported on by fellow fans for “hate speech.” The organization will brook no discontent.

Sports Has Become a Brave New World

To ensure this is the case, the Sox employ the “Dance Cam” to shake any thoughts of discouragement and despair from fans’ minds lest they realize they’re being swindled into wasting hard-earned cash on soggy hotdogs, overpriced beer, and cardboard pretzels while watching spoiled millionaires play a boy’s game. 

In this way, the “Dance Cam” is similar to the tiny drug soma in Aldous Huxley’s great novel Brave New World. Soma was famously advertised as “Christianity without tears” and was taken whenever anybody felt the need to block out the harsh realities of life. At Fenway, when the home nine is down by seven or eight runs in the late innings, the “Dance Cam” saves the day and reminds those in attendance that it doesn’t matter who wins or loses as long as fans have fun. The problem, of course, is that losing is never fun.

Just as the citizens of Huxley’s World State loved soma, it is clear that many Sox fans adore the “Dance Cam.” They get to shake their game-jersey-clad bodies on the Jumbotron to a chorus of loud cheers of encouragement. This is bread and circuses at its worst and has transformed the ballpark from what was a sometimes violent and chaotic, but always authentic, heart of America into the baseball equivalent of a bad Nickelodeon sitcom(READ MORE: Backup Catcher: The Most Underappreciated Man on the Diamond)

As Huxley noted, the citizens of Brave New World were slaves of the best type: those who loved their servitude. It appears that the hardened Red Sox fans of the past who stoically embraced the failures that bound generations together have been replaced by Huxleyan slaves whose only concern is being happy in the moment, no matter the outcome of the game. Thus, as the “Dance Cam” scans the park, fans who otherwise might discuss the futility unfolding in front of them on the field instead snap to their feet in Pavlovian obedience and exhibit dance moves that remind one of the Seinfeld character Elaine Benes

Of course, on the surface, there is no harm in “Dance Cam” dancing. The Jumbotron simply broadcasts fans enjoying themselves at the ballpark. But just as Thoreau noted that it was impossible to “kill time without injuring eternity,” celebratory dancing when losing can only cheapen winning. And this raises a number of questions: What happens when we teach our young that it’s fine and dandy to celebrate while losing? Could there be larger societal consequences to the progressive lesson that sports should be about fun rather than winning? Is it wrong to show frustration, dissatisfaction, and — dare I say — anger when the product you paid tremendous amounts of money for stinks? If sports mirror life and prepare the young for the hardships they will inevitably face in adulthood, should we encourage them to face those hardships with a stiff upper lip or ignore reality and dance blissfully like the oblivious citizens of Brave New World?

Don’t Participate in the Lie

I understand that these questions might lead some to label me a curmudgeon. Rather than defend myself against such a scurrilous claim, however, I welcome it. And I imagine (maybe hope) that there are other curmudgeons out there who agree with me. At the least, I can count on my 10-year-old son, who, by virtue of his age and innocence, cannot be slandered with such a term. He is simply a fan who expects more from baseball.

As the “Dance Cam” scanned Fenway between the seventh and eighth innings of another lifeless Sox loss we attended the other night, my son asked a question that should have been on the minds of all reasonable fans.

“Why are all these people dancing? Are they happy that the Red Sox are losing?” he asked.

“It’s a distraction,” I said. “We’re all supposed to be having fun.”

“Are you having fun?” he asked.

“No,” I said. “Losing is never fun.”

He made a sullen face and told me, “If that camera shows me, I’m gonna flip the bird,” and I thought of that Oiler fan who bravely fought back against those who’d have us actively participate in the celebration of defeat.

Although I fully agreed with my son’s plan, I told him it would be better to just sit solemnly with deep looks of consternation on our faces, and the “Dance Cam” would pass us by. Oftentimes, simply not participating in the lie is the greatest resistance.

As we left the park, my son said, “I can’t believe people are happy, and the Red Sox lost! I’m never coming back to another game.”

The words uttered in the midst of drunken and high fans who seemed to care less about the Sox defeat emboldened me. They represented a small but important rebellion of the human spirit.

I pray there are others who feel the same way.

Dana E. Abizaid teaches European history at the Istanbul International Community School and is a freelance contributor to the Daily Caller.

Read More: ‘Dance Cams’ Ruin Sports in This Brave New World – The American Spectator

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