Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, January 18, 2013

People is puzzling

The news is dominated today by the chemically enhanced cyclist and the linebacker with the imaginarily dead imaginary girlfriend. Both stories have a certain amount of intrinsic weirdness but it got me to thinking that all the world over, people are obsessed with sports. The popularity of particular games is as definitive of cultures as religion and cuisine; and the civic unity of cities and nations is as much about sporting teams and iconic athletes as it is about political institutions and nationalist mythology.

I don't have any deep explanation of this. It's like music -- nobody really knows why we like it so much or what it really means. I'm as much a fan as anybody, looking forward to the AFC championship game on Sunday even knowing the awful truth about what it's doing to my heroes' cerebrums. Oh well.


roger said...

at least the losers aren't eaten by lions. we've come a medium long way.

Anonymous said...

I’m not up on the history of Sport. But one tale tells that sports teams were pushed by the Brits -at the height of Empire, that Sun that never sets - to keep proles (workers at home and under colonialism) to keep them busy, involved, and deflect anger away from the ‘bosses / over all structure’ and manage conflict between groups in a symbolic, non-violent way. Seen in this light, drunken football hooligans who smash bottles and sometimes kill each other are helping us avoid or postpone WW3 (which is well underway underground, but that is another topic.)
But ppl doing extraordinary physical things are always fascinating.

Think jugglers, singers, acrobats, in the Middle Ages (EU)...Or, Houdini!

With measurement, performance became timed...and milliseconds became important. Team sports afford a kind of friendly, ersatz belonging.