Sure, I can see how sports are entertaining for people. Here are athletes doing things with inflatable balls that neither you nor I can do. Do these players deserve $20 million a year to bounce that ball and throw it through a hoop? Do they deserve the obsessive attention (checking ESPN every minute during finals seasons) and blind loyalty that millions of fans give them?
I think that Noam Chomsky, American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and political activist, presents some thought-provoking views on sports and their role in distracting people from avenues of thought that matter and make a difference, such as politics.
He says, "...in the cultural environment you're a passive observer of usually pretty tawdry stuff; political and social life are out of your range, they're in the hands of the rich folks. So what's left? Well, one thing that's left is sports -- so you put a lot of the intelligence and the thought and the self-confidence into that. And I suppose that's also one of the basic functions it serves in the society in general: it occupies the population, and keeps them from trying to get involved with things that really matter."
I don't think there's a conspiracy to brainwash and enslave the proletariat or the Bourgeoisie into a lifetime of servitude to loving and following spectator sports, but sports are certainly flashier than politics, or other fields that "matter."
I don't know how to talk to people about sports and I feel the need to learn to aid in my relationship-building abilities. When I tell people that we're moving to Boise in a few months, the first thing they say is, "you'll have to become Boise State football fans now." And I think for a minute and finally respond, "uh, yeah, I hear they've got a blue field." Then the conversation sort of ends. So, how do you feign interest in something that you have absolutely none at all?