Warning: this is going to be an attempt to get a little intellectual. It will probably fail terribly.
So most of you have probably seen Molly Brook’s hockey/sports cartoon, but if you haven’t, you can check it out here. Do so before reading the rest of it.
The relationship between sports and entertainment, or at times the lack thereof, is something I’ve tried to write about a lot in my editorials in The Indian. I never can get a handle on it perfectly, but I think Brooks gets some of the things right here. Though I don’t usually like the comparison of sports to work of fiction, such as books or movies or theater. It’s just not the same thing. But I don’t think she’s making a direct comparison.
A lot of the same themes were touched on by Nick Hornby in Fever Pitch (it was actually a book, and a brilliant one, before it became an awful, awful Jimmy Fallon movie glorifying Red Sox fans and wasn’t even close, and that came after a pretty ho-hum Colin Firth movie about the actual book). You can read that chapter here (don’t worry, it’s short). And if you haven’t read the whole book and even have a passing interest in the beautiful game, go and read it now. Leave work, go home, read it. Won’t take you more than a couple nights, it goes fast.
I think both of these pieces are why I get so angry when my non-sports loving friends or just annoying hipsters (strangely, a lot of Chicago hipsters are huge hockey fans, and it most certainly doesn’t work that way in other cities) scoff at this city’s obsession with its sports teams or my fandom. Because they look at it through the same prism as going to see a band or show, and don’t understand why you’d wrap so much emotion into something similar that you have no control over.
But it isn’t the same. It’s not entertainment. It’s catharsis, it can be entertaining, but it’s not entertainment. Ask Killion if I look like I’m having any fun during a Hawks playoff game. You can ask me the same about him, the answer will be the same. McClure had to sequester himself at home because he was genuinely afraid of what he might do in public. These are not people who are actively enjoying themselves.
The only term I can use is alternate-universe, a contained one at that. But even that’s not accurate, because at least in this universe I have some control. I can go get a hot dog or burrito or something else for lunch. But in sports? Basically my only choice is to leave. I’m locked in.
Quite frankly, the whole thing is absurd. But we do it because real life is not only absurd, but also stupid. Likely, your job pisses you off most of the time. If your married, you feel confused most of the time, or at least that’s the impression I get. Kids? Please, I know all you parents out there spend 95% time exhausted and bewildered, and then you spend the other 5% of the time trying to convince your friends you’re not those things and it’s wonderful. I see through you. You spend a lot of days wondering if you’ll ever get to see another sunset in Rome and knowing you probably never will. It sucks.
So it’s a distraction, but a distraction we can recognize in that it mirrors life a lot. And it ends, and we can take a break, which we can’t from the world. I guess. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just all a mess. But it’s fun to think about.
I’m gonna start drinking now.