I thought I already knew why I enjoyed following sports.
There’s the exuberant home-team rooting experience, where I have heard an antediluvian “Devil Voice” rising from my hyper-partisan innards.
There’s the agonizing suspense of the ultimate outcome, especially “sudden death” overtime in hockey, which has induced more “sudden deaths” than shoveling your driveway. (An unverified assertion but I’ve done both and the former feels dangerously closer to “imminent demise.”)
There’s the incomparable joy of watching magnificent athletes – human beings like myself but demonstrably different – executing breathtaking maneuvers under unimaginable pressure, “do or die” situations, with the game on the line and precious time rapidly running out.
All that, plus the redemptive resurrection of “There’s always next year.”
(Meaning, it excruciatingly matters but in the “Big Picture” it doesn’t.)
That’s why I believed I enjoyed following sports. But it turns out there is something even more wonderfully appealing about following sports, something I appreciate now more than ever before and only partly because I was unaware of its existence.
Recently discovered by me was the greatest satisfaction of all about following sports.
Especially in the times that currently prevail.
You open the newspaper – or its digital replacement on your electronic device… I wonder – I am going someplace but I am taking a moment to wonder – do people take their laptops into the bathroom when they go? I’m just curious.
Anyway, you open whatever you open (wherever you open it), and you turn to the “Sports Section” and you read the journalistic report to find out who won last night’s game. And you know what?
If that journalistic report reveals that, last night, the Clippers beat the Lakers 117 to 106, there is a one hundred percent certainty…
That they did.
Not an eighty-seven percent certainty. Not a ninety-eight-and-a-half percent certainty, but a one hundred per cent certainty. And you did not even have to be there. Wherever you were, the Clippers beat the Lakers 117 to 106. (A hypothetical example, because the Clippers usually beat the Lakers by considerably more.)
And there is no rancorous dispute. No “spinning” of the final results. No “alternate fabrications”, where competing news outlets proclaim a contradictory outcome. No “For a ‘balancing perspective’ on who won of last night’s game…”
None of those shenanigans whatsoever.
The game happened, there is a verifiable final score, that verifiable final score is reported in the following day’s newspaper, and there you have it. The winner won and the loser lost. And you can take that to the bank. * (* If you had a bet down on the winner, you can literally take that to the bank.)
Don’t you just love that unequivocal certainty?
You look at the box scores, it says, “Corey Seager went ‘two-for-four with a home
And that’s exactly what he did.
No debate. No “That’s what you think.”
If it says so in the paper,
He did it.
“No, he didn’t.”
There’s no “No, he didn’t!” If it happened, it happened, the baseball box scores never once leading me astray. (Unlike certain election night pundits.)
I have to tell you, it feels viscerally liberating just writing that. Somebody asks you, “Who won the Clippers-Lakers game last night?” and you can tell them, with no fear of embarrassment down the line. (Unlike certain pre-election day predictions.)
The absolute “Beauty Part” of following sports? Their reporting tells it exactly “like it is.”
Do news stories tell it exactly “like it is”? Sorry, that was a rhetorical question. Does the weather report? Sorry, that was a cheap shot at meteorologists. Does the newspaper’s advertising? Sorry, I just needed a third example.
The thing is, there are no reasonable questions. Only one part of the paper is reliably correct. The “Sports Section” says Roger Federer won the “Men’s Final” in five sets, Roger Federer won the “Men’s Final” in five sets.
The president insists he was wiretapped by the previous administration?
Clayton Kershaw went seven innings with eight strikeouts.
You see what I’m saying? Information you can trust!
Leaving the president aside – wishful thinking but never mind – a noted geologist asserts a certain rock is 70 million years old…
North Carolina wins the “NCAA Championship”, beating Gonzaga 71 to 65.
71-65 – the indisputable margin of victory.
“Seventy million years old?”
Give or take what?
So there you have it – the best reason of all for enjoying following sports.
Their information is inevitably on the money.
Can you think of any other examples where you can believe what they tell you with such unalterable certainty?
I mean this blog, of course,
But where else?