Stop Arguing About Music and Sports

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Much of my childhood was spent arguing about music and sports.

  • Drake vs. Meek/Pusha T/Kanye
  • LeBron vs. Kobe vs. Jordan
  • Cole vs. Kendrick
  • Did or didn’t Dez catch it?

The older I get, the more I realize they were all a waste of my time and energy.

Let’s get into it.

The COVID Sports Fast

Like everything these days, this story starts with the Coronavirus.

When the NBA suspended its season in March, I was extremely upset. Not only did I know I was about to be sent home from college, but I was going miss out on my favorite time in the NBA season — the spring leading into the playoffs.

Surprisingly, I found I didn’t miss sports at all.

Without the constant stress of defending LeBron’s honor or reminding people the Heat were slept on, I had a lot more time to think about my life.

In fact, not having any sports to watch is a large part of the reason I got around to making this website.

Now, before we go any further, let’s make something clear.

Music and sports were a huge part of my childhood, and I’m thankful for the great moments musicians and athletes have given me.

I’m not demanding that you completely cut music or sports out of your life. If you genuinely love them, by all means continue engaging with them.

I’m just asking you to consider why you argue about them.

Do you get anything out of convincing someone that your subjective opinions are right? That the Giants are better than the Jets and Avicii is better than Audien?

Once I started thinking about these questions, I realized why arguing about sports and music is such a waste of my time.

Don’t Be Lame

The painful irony of spending time arguing about music and sports is that the people you’re arguing about have no idea you exist.

Would Kendrick or LeBron spend a minute arguing about whether you’re better than some guy named Steve?

Of course not. They’re busy living their own lives and creating their legacies.

If Kendrick and LeBron spent their time arguing about you, they wouldn’t be who they are.

Now let’s look back at you. Is it really worth your time to argue about whether LeBron is better than Jordan or not?

Regardless of anyone’s specific rankings, they’re undoubtedly two of the best basketball players of all time, are worth $500 million and $2 billion respectively, and will be remembered for decades.

Money and legacy aren’t everything, but I’m trying to highlight that they’re both far better off than most of us by all traditional metrics.

If we use that energy for our own lives, maybe we could one day become the people other people spend their time arguing about. But focusing all our energy on those who are doing more than us ensures we’ll never do anything ourselves.

Armchair Quarterbacks

Arguing about music and sports also puts most of us in an awkward position. We almost always can’t do the things we criticize others for doing poorly.

Think about how many sports commentators can’t make a lefty lay-up or lead a receiver but have gotten rich saying mean things about LeBron and Tom Brady.

Columnists who harshly critique musicians are even worse.

Here’s a section from a Washington Post article on Post Malone:

The most popular young artist in the most unpopular young nation is a rhinestone cowboy who looks like he crawled out of a primordial swamp of nacho cheese. Post Malone is a Halloween rental, a removable platinum grill, a Cubic Zirconium proposal on the jumbo screen of a last-place team. His music — one of the shallowest bastardizations of rap to date, and I don’t say that lightly — has the creative tension of associates at a downtown law firm complaining that $150,000 a year just doesn’t cut it. He looks like he got clubbed over the head by a cartoon peacock. He just turned 23.

Here’s a section of Pitchfork’s review of Mac Miller’s first album:

But it does raise the question of why Miller is so popular, because despite his claim of being a cross between John Lennon and UGK, he’s mostly just a crushingly bland, more intolerable version of Wiz Khalifa without the chops, desire, or pocketbook for enjoyable singles.

Did that piss you off? I hope it did.

Artists aren’t politicians enacting policies that will impact millions of people’s lives. They’re just people making music.

If that music makes people happy, is it really such a crime?

Even if you really despise someone’s music, is there any point in saying such mean things about them?

Worst of all, these writers got paid to write these articles! People who’ve probably never made a song in their lives!

I don’t know about you, but I never want to become the kind of person who earns their livelihood by criticizing people who do something they themselves can’t do.

Don’t Define Your Identity Through Others

So what was the point of this? It wasn’t to pontificate and make you feel bad about yourself.

If you know anything about in-groups and out-groups, you’ll know humans are biologically wired to do this sort of thing.

Although I used music and sports to make my point, I think the insight is much broader: don’t define your identity through an external group, even if it’s a “good one.”

We all do this — religion, political affiliation, sports fandom, celebrity obsession, company worship, music taste, and more.

Don’t define your identity through any “ism” or “ist.”

You can admire Steve Jobs and Apple, but do you really want using Apple products to be your defining characteristic? Or liking a certain team or politician?

I know all of you are much more interesting and capable than that.

If you love Apple, try to start a company. Define yourself as a founder, not an Apple fan. If you love a team, go join a pickup league. Define yourself as an athlete, not someone who only roots for athletes.

Take the time to think about yourself and define your identity through who you are, not just who or what you like.

Full Disclosure

I’m nervous this may come across as extremely pretentious.

To be honest, I’ve broken this principle for most of my life — I love to argue.

This is more of a reminder to myself that I know will help others.

Since I’ve put it out publicly, I hope I’ll be able to hold myself to this new standard.

Until the next time I hear someone say something too dumb, that is.

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