Friday, August 17, 2007

Philosophy, But Not In a Ben Fold's Sense

If you've never read FreeDarko before, you should. It's almost enough to make you get invested in the NBA. Almost. This post the other day was on the topic of what it means when a "mainstream sports writer" uses the term 'enigmatic' to describe a player. Obviously, this made me think of the 2007 Minnesota Twins. Here's a snippet:

"Sports are by and large about all types of masculine exertion. Physical, intellectual, playing, talking, a large portion of the culture surrounding pro athletics has to do with complete and total will imposition. That's why people talking on the subject are way too invested and usually only partly coherent: above all else, they want to be right. If sports and politics have anything in common, it's that both eschew the rhetoric of compromise or sympathy until well after the show is over (yes, even sometimes during the NBA regular months).

Sad to say, but many people writing about sports do so with the same mindset as those playing or coaching the game. This is supremely fucked up, since critical thinking is supposed to complement the sanguine crawl of battle. They don't consider themselves lowly fans, as we well know. Instead, they're experts, pundits whose command of the knowledge is the mindly equivalent of every big play they ever saw. If Norman Mailer could conceive of literature as prizefighting then damn it, their weekly column or radio spot is going to be their own private Polo Grounds.

That's why I find the occasional deployment of "enigma" so positively remarkable. In essence, it’s the sports section admitting that it can’t even pretend to figure someone out. Sure, part of it is “I have no fucking clue what this zany fella will pull out next from his proverbial wide-brimmed hat.” But there’s also the sense in which any and all blanket generalizations will fail. He’s not a thug. He’s not a bum. He’s not a cancer. He’s not an asset. He’s not a raw talent. He’s not a bargain. He’s a mess of some it all, and thus not even any of it."

It's too easy to jerk knees and apply an iron-clad "sucky" or "glorious" label to your favorite sports team based on the performance of the last series or week or Peter Gammons montage. Why can't we as sports fans admit and embrace confusion? Why can't we enjoy moments for moments sake? Why is it 'Consistency' and not 'consistency' and placed on a golden pedestal with "The Greats" carved in the side?

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