The scoreboard never lies: why sport in a post-truth world matters more than ever – The Guardian

Every fan who doesn’t spend the majority of each day sporting team face paint has asked themselves this question at least one time: “Why do I care so much about sports?” After all, it’s just a game, right? None of it ultimately means anything. You’re just rooting for laundry. The players aren’t your friends or family. There are far more important things in the world. And on it goes. The arguments against caring about sports are well-known and, well … hard to argue.

At least they were until now. Now sports don’t just simply matter, they are the only things that actually exist. As Donald Trump surrogate and eye shadow advocate Scottie Hughes explained on CNN last week, facts are no longer a thing:

“I hear half the media saying that these are lies. But on the other half, there are many people that go, ‘No, it’s true.’ And so people … that say facts are facts – they’re not really facts. Everybody has a way of interpreting them to be the truth or not truth. There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts.”

It would be wonderful to say that Ms Hughes is wrong, but there’s little evidence to support that claim. In fact, it feels quaint to even use the words “wrong” or “evidence” or “in fact”. A man who spouted unprecedented quantities of falsehoods and misinformation for 17 months was rewarded with the position of leader of the free world and, since being elected in a “landslide” that included a 2.5m deficit in the popular vote, has shown no signs of easing off his untruth offensive. Yet half the population thinks what he’s saying is true or at least doesn’t care that it is not. The general working assumption of human society throughout history has been that there is a unanimous appreciation of facts; only how to interpret and apply those facts that was up for debate. But now there is no appreciation of fact from a large portion of humanity. We are through the looking glass (while being told that there is no such thing as reflections or glass.)

The good news is that facts are not yet completely dead and it’s all thanks to sports. Here are some undeniable facts:

  • The Seahawks beat the Panthers, 40-7
  • Chelsea beat Manchester City, 3-1, and lead the Premier League
  • Alabama won the SEC championship
  • And Tiger Woods shot 73, 65, 70 and 76 to finish in 15th place at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas

I know all this because sports have a scoreboard and scoreboards do not lie.

If only we could put scoreboards everywhere. We’ve been told for years that sports have too much importance in modern society. And that sounded true. But it turns out they’re the only thing tethered to reality. We need them to influence everything. We need them to save us.

Ben Carson has claimed he was voted the “most honest” student at Yale in a class that did not exist. We know for a fact that Yale’s basketball team exists and that they beat Albany 59-55 on Saturday. Last week Breitbart published their latest blatantly misleading article in their ongoing attempt to deny climate change. Yet Curt Schilling, the former pitcher turned Breitbart podcaster, has never claimed that the Chicago Cubs didn’t win this year’s World Series in seven games. There are thousands of people across the globe who believe that there actually is no globe and that we live on a flat piece of rock and think that we would feel it if the earth was actually spinning at a high rate of speed. Yet there is no one who thinks that Usain Bolt didn’t run the 100 meters faster than everyone else in Rio. Lies consumed scientific fact long ago. All we have left is scoreboards.

In the presidential debates, moderators were either unwilling or unable to fact check on the fly. There’s no such concern with scoreboards. They tell you the exact score at all times. Timeouts remaining, who committed a penalty, who is on which team, whatever information you want to know is up there, big and in lights for all the world to see. There’s no arguing what’s on the scoreboard. Scoreboards don’t offer hot takes or counter-arguments. And while political pundits like to award candidates with style points, scoreboards pay no mind to style or artistry. If Hillary Clinton were a sports team, she wouldn’t have been a fan favorite or earned plaudits for revolutionizing the game, she just would have piled up victories against her opponent week after week. The other side couldn’t have gone to the spin room and claimed they actually won. There’s no spin room in sports. The scoreboard would have been clear: it was a blowout. If only elections were seen as the ultimate sport, the whole nation would have pulled for Team USA. America does well every four years in the Olympics, right? There are scoreboards at the Olympics. America doesn’t do so well every four years in elections. Ryan Lochte will essentially be the new US president.

Of course, it’s too late for all that now. A man who angrily live-tweets Saturday Night Live is president-elect and will have the nuclear codes. Science is doubted. Facts are dead. The Founding Fathers believed in the will of the people and that sounds great in theory, but modern sports fans are wise enough to know that letting the people decide anything is a huge risk. Just look at All-Star teams decided by fan vote. The people can be idiots.

The only thing left in the world that makes any sense is sports and the scoreboard. We know who won. We know who lost. We know certain things are indisputable. Filling your days watching men and women play games and chase around balls while wearing brightly-colored outfits isn’t a foolish waste of time anymore. It is celebrating the one sensible thing that still remains in modern society. It is taking a stand for facts. Mushroom clouds may soon be coming to take us all. Until then, I’ve got some very important ice hockey to watch.

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