Noam Chomsky: Wrong About Sports
|January 29, 2012||Posted by ReubenFB under Geo-Analysis|
There’s the real mass media- the kinds that are aimed at, you know, Joe Six Pack – that kind. The purpose of those media is just to dull people’s brains… Take, say, sports — that’s another crucial example of the indoctrination system, in my view. For one thing because it – you know, it offers people something to pay attention to that’s of no importance. That keeps them from worrying about things that matter to their lives that they might have some idea of doing something about.
This is a gutsy statement, given that something like 70% of Americans follow sports to some degree. Is Noam right? Are sports just some kind of capitalist conspiracy that keeps people from paying attention to the issues that actually matter in the world?
This January 23rd-25th, the Seton Hall Sports Polling Center conducted its monthly randomized nationwide phone survey, asking among other things, “Which of these news stories are you paying the most attention to: the upcoming Super Bowl, the Republican presidential race, the problems in the Middle East, or the condition of the U.S. economy?” The center provided us with the raw data, and with 1,059 responding – a healthy sample size for a nationwide poll – here were the results:
It seems from this poll that America does have its priorities in order, with 87% of respondents following an issue that’s, you know, meaningful to the world or something, and only 13% admitting to spending their time refreshing the injury report for Rob Gronkowski.
Now if Noam Chomsky (or Nate Silver) was here with us he might point out that this 13% is probably a lowball: some respondents may have been too bashful to admit to a phone interviewer how closely they were following the Superbowl. This is possible, but in that case we would still expect the 13% who voted Superbowl to be more like the “Joe Six-Pack” type Noam describes that’s getting the wool pulled over their eyes by evil sports capitalists.
Urban Dictionary describes “Joe Six-Pack” as “Average American moron, IQ 60, drinking beer, watching baseball and CNN, and believe everything his President says.” Grammar aside, this is a pretty apt description. While we don’t know the intelligence, drinking preferences, or news outlet of choice of the survey respondents, we do have data for the income, poverty level, and education levels of the counties that they live in. Here are those counties:
Note: for those of you interested in such things, this is officially the first point in this blog where we’ve put on our big boy pants and booted up ArcGIS. Expect more of this in the future.
So do respondents who voted for the Superbowl come from on average poorer or less educated counties than those who voted for the other issues? Nope!
As you can see, the counties where respondents voted for the Superbowl and the counties where they voted for other issues were virtually identical in key indicators of income and education levels. There are definitely some Joe Six-Packs watching football, but there are just as many rooting for Republican candidates or worrying about the economy. And the people following the Superbowl aren’t even all Joes, 50% of those respondents were women.
So there you have it Noam, the poor and uneducated of America are not being blinded by the shiny toy of sports. A lot of people like sports and a few people follow sports at little too closely, but then again most people follow something a little too closely. When the Superbowl rolls around next week it will be amazing and then it will be over, and we’ll get right back to paying attention to the Republican primaries and the economy just as we have been all along.
Unless the Patriots win. Then I’m OVER ALL THAT SHIT.
Special thanks to Noah Fischer for pointing me to the Chomsky quote, and once again to the Seton Hall Sports Polling Center.