Every year, we spend more than a trillion dollars worth of time and attention on organized spectator sports.
The half-life of a sporting event is incredibly short. Far more people are still talking about the Godfather movie or the Nixon administration than care about the 1973 World Series.
Billions of people buying tickets and investing countless hours on something of absolutely no significance.
It turns out that this insignificance and the ephemeral nature of sporting events is the heart of their appeal.
Instead of having passionate arguments about things that matter, issues with consequences, topics where one can be wrong or right, organized sports are a tribal opportunity to vent without remorse.
We've taken that pleasure in insignificance and transferred it to celebrity culture as well. And then on to just about everything else, including science and governance.
Hence the challenge–because when we start to treat things of significance as if they're a spectator sport, we all lose.
Soccer hooligans are a real problem. But hooligans in science (yelling about their opinions, denigrating their opponents) or in world affairs do none of us any good.