Culture War Correspondence: Sports

GORDON: The GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL of today’s topic is to discuss sports, ladies and gentlemen- which I thought appropriate, considering the devastating defeat of Brazil at the hands of Germany.

KAT: Yeah, it was a real blitzkrieg.

Are you a sports guy Gordon?

GORDON: Classy, Kat. Bring up the darkest and most shameful elements of German history on this, their proudest day.

But to answer the question, no, not at all. I’ve always been an adherent of the belief that if you’re not playing it, it’s probably not all that interesting.

KAT: My apologies to all my fellow Germans out there.

And yes, I think you are really on to something there. The only sport I’ve enjoyed watching at all is soccer and that’s just because I’ve played it (terribly, but I did play) so I understand (most of) the rules.

So, did you actually watch any of the games in the World Cup?

GORDON: None whatsoever.

I did follow it a little bit, but only to gauge the reactions of average Americans to the comparative success of the team. This has probably been the most invested the American public has been in the sport.

Or anything, really.

KAT: Yeah. I have to say I was cheering for America to lose. You guys are good at too many things. You need to share with the other kids.

GORDON: Share? What are you, some sort of Pinko?

KAT: I did watch a couple games. It watched one in the Montreal airport during a layover (the game between Holland and Costa Rica) and it was very tense. We were at this cafe and this crowd slowly grew and grew and everyone was getting more and more vocal about the plays. Then the TV suddenly shut off. It was hilarious. I thought they were going to have a riot. Well, I exaggerate a bit. It came back on pretty quick and everything was fine, but I can see now why people like sports bars, etc. There is this crazy sense of community with total strangers.

…and yes, of course I am a Pinko… I’m Canadian after all. The land of never-ending healthcare.

GORDON: That was actually one of the things that actually kinda irks me about sports- the seemingly irrational support for the teams. I mean, folks here in the States will go nuts for the Dallas Cowboys, even without having any connection to the city or Texas in general.

I never got how one just “supports” one team- what makes the _______’s the chosen ones and what makes all other teams pretenders to the throne…

KAT: Haha. I know. I feel the same way. It’s been really bizarre for me to be married to a sports guy (I’m still trying to figure out how that happened- my current theory is that he hid his sports-isms from me until it was too late. alas). Anyways, it is so weird to know this incredibly intelligent guy and try to figure out how he likes sports (not that I’m saying intelligent people dislike sports…)

I think there is a lot more to sports culture than I understood until I was really close to someone who cares. It’s not exactly the team that John (as an example) cheers for. He is watching for certain skills (like in basketball there has been this crazy increase in three point shots- it’s like we are creating super humans who can do things that the typical human just could not do). So I think the true sports fantastic doesn’t just cheer for a team, they are constantly evaluating information. I can see how it could be interesting… it’s just not for me.

GORDON: And there’s definitely a lot of debate on how far we keep pushing athletes. Are we calling for a higher caliber or are we simply pushing folks beyond the boundaries of humanity?

That’s… not a debate I think we’d be able to settle- let me ask this instead:
What would get you to root for a team?

KAT: Probably the social or political aspect. For example, I was really rooting for Nigeria and Ghana in the world cup because I love how it (their success) challenges our common stereotypes. We tend to think of countries like Canada as more “advanced” than every country in Africa. People assume all of Africa is this barren wasteland (in popular culture) and forget that there is an incredible range across the continent (in wealth, politics, environment, etc). Yet both Nigeria and Ghana did quite well in the Cup, meanwhile Canada didn’t even qualify.


Personally, I’m reminded of the Monty Python sketch where the German and Greek philosophers play a football match.

If there was something just a bit more distinctive about each of the teams- some sort of driving idea or sense of representation- I guess it’d be easier for me to get behind one.

KAT: Yeah, that makes sense. Do you think it is just a question of wanting to be more involved with the stuff you know? Perhaps people like us don’t like sports because we just don’t know much about it and we were never really involved in it?

GORDON: I wouldn’t say that. I like competition and not knowing how something’s going to turn out. And I can genuinely see myself speculating as to the build of certain teams, strategies used, and the like.

But it’s just that there seems to be so much… clutter when it comes to it. Teams aren’t so much teams as collections of millionaires drifting from one city to another. There seems to me to be no sense of real rivalry, no “fullness” in the victories.

Plus, I think some of the sports themselves are kinda boring. If Tiger Woods had to play golf in the woods with a bunch of actual tigers- THAT I think I would watch.

KAT: Yeah, I have no idea where the appeal is in golf. You are pretty much just watching someone take a walk in a field for 90% of the time. So how would you suggest creating some real competition in sports? Return to the gladiator days? At this point I can’t really think of any other reasonable motivator than money.

GORDON: I think there oughta be some ground rules for sports in general- namely that players can’t just switch over to another team. Kinda robs the team of its personality, I think, and if the teams have personality, it’ll be all that easier to actually get attached to e’m.

And I think it’s time for some fresh sports- I mean, I could see myself watching rugby, if it ever came stateside. And Top Gear‘s car-football match was awesome

Agreed. It never hurts to spice things up. Then again people can be set in their ways about what qualifies as a sport. Some friends of mine were laughing about “ultimate frisbee” today. They said ultimate players think if they keep saying that it is a sport loud enough, and often enough, people will begin to think it really is a sport. I think it will be the same way with any new sport. Then again, I wouldn’t mind watching some quidditch matches. There’s some kids who play it at my University and it looks pretty hilarious.

GORDON: And on that note, we open the floor to our readers, for their recommendations and suggestions and references to bizarre sports we may not have heard of.

KAT: And your thoughts on sports culture. If you like sports, please explain to us… why do you like sports exactly?

Thanks again for joining us. Until next time.

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