Thursday, June 17, 2010

Real Sports Do Not Involve Animals

Most people who know me know that I am an avid sports fan. My two favorite sports are football and baseball, respectively, although I enjoy watching most sports, that is, human competitions highlighting mental toughness and physical prowess. In all my years of playing, watching and coaching sports, I’ve also learned what are not sports- contests using animals.

The dictionary defines sport as an activity involving physical exertion and skill that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often undertaken competitively. It would be inaccurate to insert animals into this definition since they do not enter any of our sports willingly, nor do they adhere to their own set of rules or customs; they are merely forced to participate in a human-derived event out of fear, trickery and human greed. Animals do not play sports, people do. This is no more apparent than observing the outcomes of real sports compared with those so-called sports involving animals. A boxer gets the title, a hockey player gets the cup, and a running back gets the trophy, but the hunted animal gets to die, the fighting dog is left with lasting physical and emotional injuries, and the horse gets shot. How does this compare? Even if animals excel in these events, they often lose in the end.

When did it become acceptable for events involving the maltreatment and death of animals, like hunting, cock fighting, dog fighting, horse racing, dog racing and pigeon shooting, to be called sports? Do we really consider baseball – America’s pastime, played among willing, human athletes – to be on the same par with dog racing, in which greyhounds are forced to race around a track and then spend the remaining 22 hours of the day in a cage? Do we compare a linebacker’s efforts to single out the quarterback, in a game that both mutually participate in and profit from, with that of a hunter cowardly concealed in the woods of an animal’s natural environment waiting to see that animal in the scope of his weapon in order to kill him or her?

Recently, I was saddened and disturbed by a picture in the local paper of a 12-year-old girl (upper left) proudly holding up a dead turkey she had killed during a youth hunting season event. What's more, this picture was featured in the sports section. Teaching a child how to kill another living being is not a sport. (Frankly, I think it can be considered child abuse, in addition to animal abuse.) Why not give the child a camera and encourage her to get as close as she can to this strange being so as to get a lasting photo? She could display her courage with a picture instead of revealing her weakness for touting the agony and death of an innocent animal. She gets to demonstrate her abilities and the animal gets to keep his life.

I’ve heard all the self-serving excuses that people make on behalf of the animals they’re manipulating and killing, but there is no justification for their actions. There is no such thing as a clean kill; horses do not enjoying racing themselves to exhaustion and death, and dogs do not take pleasure in tearing each other to pieces. Why not worry about the overpopulation of our own human race, instead of animals, and work on preserving traditions that are worth defending- those which protect, not destroy.

It is delusional for us to think that killing, racing or fighting defenseless animals under our own made-up rules for our own pathetic excuses qualifies as a sport. What’s worse is that we teach this cruelty and ignorance to the next generation. The only reason why hunting, rodeos and racing events haven’t been criminally prosecuted as dog and cock fighting has, is due to the money gained from earnings, corporate sponsorships and government permits. In the same way that Wall Street is legalized gambling; these events have become legalized and legitimized because of those who stand to profit from them. Make no mistake about it; these barbaric acts of cruelty against animals are not sports, but rather a reflection of our own arrogance and lack of compassion staring back at us in the mirror, if we dare to look.

Photo courtesy of the Bucks County Herald.

1 comment:

karyn said...

Bethany
Thank you for your well written message about using animals as sport.

It is deplorable how the racing industry treats dogs and horses.

Greyhounds are confined in cages 20 to 22 hours a day, fed RAW meat made from downed and disabled animals, indiscriminately doused with steroids to suppress estrus.

State regulations are lax to nil with more importance placed on betting integrity than humane treatment of dogs.

Dogs die from suffering broken legs, common injuries from broken hocks, spinal paralysis, electrocution, and heart attacks.

Greyhound racing must end. Race cars not dogs.