Gyms are always a little tense. Even if you love working out, you’re huffing and puffing and sometimes wondering if your butt looks OK in your new yoga pants. People bring their body image issues into the gym and seriously, it’s really gross when you hop on a machine that hasn’t been wiped down and touch a stranger’s sweat. The TVs are supposed to be a welcome distraction — reading the closed captioning is sometimes the only way to trick your brain into loving the elliptical. But that’s not always true in this crazy political climate. One Pennsylvania gym banned cable news to prevent fights from breaking out and we have to admit: We sort of get it.
The Greater Scranton YMCA wrote a letter members saying that they’re banning 24-hour news channels. It didn’t specify which ones it was playing, but even if it was all of them to be fair and balanced enough members complained about their “safety, both physically and emotionally.” The board said that it would revisit the matter when things “calm down” but for now, the news is out.
One member told a local Scranton NBC affiliate that they thought it was an “overreaction.” But fights have actually broken out at the location, according to the YMCA board.
Trish Fisher, the CEO of the Greater Scranton YMCA told NBC News that,
“There was one that was broken up that was just about ready to go physical, so we had members step forward saying that they’ve felt a little uncomfortable about the fights that were going on over politics.”
It sort of makes sense. People are more polarized than ever before. You can’t escape politics right now — the country is literally divided over some very fundamental, very big ideas. Fighting on social media is one thing, but imagine if you had to watch Fox News with someone who felt very differently than you do about what they’re reporting (this goes BOTH ways)? It could be difficult. At the gym, people are already pumped up, hungry, and annoyed they have to be there. Do you want to talk about Cabinet hearings in that state of mind? That’s a hard pass.
Still, people are upset that their only options will be ESPN, the Weather Channel, and Friends reruns (is every gym playing TBS all the time?). One YMCA go-er said, “I understand why they did it because there was a lot of controversy with a lot of people talking and arguing… but I don’t think it was right.”
If people were really getting heated, it makes sense to turn off the news. The gym has no responsibility to keep its members informed and really? It might be the only safe space from political arguments left.