The Greys

Throwing her arms in the air in bemused exasperation she exclaimed “I don’t get sports.”

The other night between bouts of Quizzard, the lone female in the room availed herself of the opportunity to inquire as to the male obsession with sports. I have to admit that I might not be the best person to ask, as my sporting obsessions tend toward individual contests; whiling away entire afternoons in front of the television watching golf, tennis, or snooker will no doubt maintain as habits for years to come.

That said, I have enjoyed the occasional baseball game, and even football can prove diverting. Hockey or basketball not so much, though World Cup soccer has the capacity to engage my full attention for a game or two (especially if the UK are taking on the Krauts). The Olympics are a big snooze. Running? Throw the thing? That manages to engage the attention of adults? I have to admit I have for some time wanted to be an Eastern European spy who also happens to be a Biathlon (that’s gun-skiing to you) medalist, but that’s a story for another day.

The appeal of sports is rooted in four major concepts: vicarious competition, tribalism, and appreciation for athletic aesthetics are the obvious first three. The fourth, less obvious but entirely indispensable, is the narrative. Each and every game of anything is also a story, and not only is the story about the events that transpire over  the next couple of hours, but it is also a tale in context. What and who do these teams represent? Are the big, bad, and rich New York Yankees bashing a small market minnow into submission? Will the minnow prove to be a David in the face of Goliath? Or are The Yankees taking on their arch nemesis, The Boston Red Sox – the darlings of perennial vigils held in hope of an eventual victory in the face of The Evil Empire (until recently anyway, they finally won).

Sports are dramatic. Yes, it is cheap drama, and the tension no more sophisticated than that built by a nauseating television program about hot doctors screwing each other… but no less either. Males like sports because they are allegories for murder and conflict – the stuff of many a good story.

So, I raise my arms and ask: How can anyone who claims to be a grown up willingly sit through an episode of Grey’s Anatomy?

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2 Responses to “The Greys”

  1. sarah Says:

    i tend to confuse vicarious competition and narrative.
    i can understand positioning one’s self (because of arbitrary things like location or tradition) on one side or another (although i tend to always shift in my loyalties. i have an unerring soft spot for the underdogs),
    what i find unfathomable is this tenancy in sports enthusiasts to take personal pride in other people’s achievement.
    for instance the olympics was steeped in lots of “us” and “we” that simply maked no sense.
    sure, my tax dollars may have contributed in some nominal insignificant way to a tedious victory over someone possessing an almost imperceptibly less olympical prowess.
    i can hardly take that personally, yet i was repeatedly condemned after the olympics for being something of a “harsh toke”,
    just for not wanting to congratulate myself and others who did nothing more than act as spectators.

  2. rockrobinoff Says:

    yeah, i feel similarly. i take little, if any, pleasure in any one side winning, and couldn’t possibly care less about Olympic results.

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