Sunday, November 14, 2010
Why We Watch
My apologies for the long hiatus. It's good to be back. It was very exciting to hear that several people were looking forward to the next post. I have readers! Who knew.
I wanted to write about something important for my return to the blogosphere. Something more than the everyday post. I thought about discussing the NFL, but it would have gone something like this: "there are a lot of good teams and I don't know who will win." I considered writing about the NBA, but I think my talents might be wasted on South Beach. I contemplated posting about the NHL, but I'm not Canadian. I even toyed with an MLS playoff article, but...you know.
It was somewhere between this morning's coffee and Golden Grahams that I thought to myself: I'm going to spend the next 9 hours in front of the TV. Why???
And so we arrive at this post: Why We Watch. It's an interesting subject to consider, really. Sports are incredible, don't get me wrong. But if some outsider, like an alien from V or some crap like that (is that still a show?) saw sports for the first time, I'm sure there would be some confusion. These games fuel one of the largest industries in the world, with hundreds of billions of dollars flowing through sporting channels around the globe.
So why do we watch, then? Why does anybody care? What makes sports better than, say, movies? It starts with a sort of connection to a sport. Most of us sports-watchers have played (or play) a sport or two, and it's fascinating to see the top level athletes compete in one of our sports.
But it's certainly more than that. We watch for camaraderie. Fanhood ushers us into the arms of a city; it gives us a sense of belonging. When's the last time you went to a movie and high-fived the stranger next to you when something amazing happened? And sports are a conversation starter with virtually anybody. "Did you see the game last night?" is all it takes to go from awkward silence to a great discussion.
But above all else, we watch for the authenticity. Sport itself is an art form. The intricacies of a Tampa 2 or an umbrella powerplay can be fascinating. Or, to the more casual sports fan, the action as a whole is enough. But sports are separate from art for one important reason. When we watch a movie, we know that the actors spent hours getting the staging just right, that someone edited scenes together, that somebody else added special effects. When we read a book, we know the ending has already been inked onto the last few pages. But when we watch a game, the story is written right before our eyes. The players don't have any more of an idea regarding what's going happen than we do. We might "know" that the Cowboys are going to lose by double digits today, but we don't know until we see it with our very own eyes.
And that is why we watch.