Thursday, March 6, 2008

De Ludos Despicientibus

Kobolds love sports, which is a well-known fact. However, it does not prevent certain people, and they know who they are, from turning up their noses, adopting a supercilious air, and muttering things like "watching a bunch of grown men/women chasing a ball/puck/other around a field/rink/court/&c"* as though that were some sort of crime. On many occasions, such people automatically attribute to the sports fan a low level of literacy and a high level of knuckle-dragging (Kobolds, it should be pointed out, never drag their knuckles - it bruises the scales). And God help the kobold who happens to be apprehended by the anti-sporting type in the act of watching baseball ("Boring! Boring!") or soccer ("Boring! Hooligans! Boring!"). So what is the sports fan to do, when confronted with people of this type?

I should stop here, and point out that I am not ranting about people who don't enjoy sports. It is absolutely one's right to dislike sports, just as it is one's right to dislike certain forms of music, or certain types of food. What I am talking about is the group of people who not only do not enjoy sports, but are offended by the idea that some people do take pleasure from sports. I suspect a certain only level of joylessness on the part of members of this latter group, along with an inherent failure to mind their own business.

However, much as one would like to, one cannot really point out the above to the anti-sports fan, as shouting and hurt feelings will result. In addition, sports fans do, every so often, hurt their own cause ("Hooligans!"). And finally, the outcome of a sporting event is indeed, in the grand scheme of things, fairly insignificant. And so we return to the question of how one handles being looked upon with scorn for being a sports fan. For a long time, I had no answer to that. However, just the other day, I came across a lovely quote from Roger Angell. Who is Roger Angell, you ask? Well, he's a spectacularly good baseball writer for The New Yorker. In 1975, in an essay entitled "Agincourt and After" (reprinted, incidentally, in his book Five Seasons: A Baseball Companion), he wrote:

"It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitive as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look -- I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring -- caring deeply and passionately, really caring -- which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naivete -- the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball -- seems a small price to pay for such a gift."

And that, I think, about sums it up!


Chorus said...

Chorus (hearts) Roger Angell.

GREAT post!

Chunklets said...

Why thank you! I'm quite fond of Angell as well!

skdadl said...

skdadl *hearts* Roger Angell as well, baseball too, although those guys seem determined to break my heart lately.

Nice to meet you, chunklets.

Chunklets said...

Thanks, Skadl!

It is indeed a bit tough to be a baseball fan these days. We can but hope that matters will improve!