Sports Fever (Because Sickness Is the Only Way to Explain It)

I didn’t mean to, but I saw Germany beat Argentina.  At least I think I did.  It’s difficult to tell because the sport is so boring that the final minutes of the world championship were indistinguishable from the several minutes after the game had ended.  People were milling about aimlessly on the field; some fans were looking happy, others were crying.  For a while there was a clock counting up to some arbitrary limit, then the clock was gone.  That was literally the only thing that changed.

Futbal is apparently pointlessness plus a clock.


Nevertheless, it isn’t the stupidest sport.  That honor goes to Basketball.

Before I explain let me say that I very nearly got to visit the locker-room of our local (fairly successful) college basketball team, which is apparently some sort of privilege.  These are men who are internationally famous for playing a children’s game rather than attending classes; I’m not sure how it is that we started venerating their paraphernalia like relics.  I’m especially not sure why we’re interested in their locker-room.  Locker-rooms are large communal toilets and bathrooms.  Oh please, let me see theirs.

Either way, while futbal involves men walking ceaseless back and forth across a fairly large area in pursuit, perhaps, of some vestige of purpose or excitement, basketball involves ten men running back and forth in an area roughly the length of a midsize Volkswagen, all with such exaggerated attention-deficit that if something exciting doesn’t happen every few seconds, they literally pause the game to complain about it.  (And yet they entirely miss the irony.)  They do this for something like an hour, but none of it matters; every game is decided in the last five minutes.

Here’s an idea:  play five minutes.

If you think that might remove considerations such as stamina, just have everyone run laps first.  Have everyone run a mile, then play for five minutes.  Or, and this might be more efficient, just play a bunch of games back to back.  You could fit the entire NBA season into an afternoon.  And what an afternoon that would be: a bunch of eight-foot-tall men trying to get something the size of a small melon through a hoop that is only ever so slightly out of their reach, and mostly being mediocre at it.

Lebron James recently caused a fuss with his role-model worthy indecisiveness.  He spent a long time trying to decide from whom he should take egregious amounts of money so that he can continue playing a children’s game well into middle age.  He’s apparently pretty good at basketball. He’s been in the news for a month.  I think whole cities enacted pagan festivals in an attempt to win his favor.  At one of the most basic elements of the game, he succeeds slightly less than three-quarters of the time.

This game is literally all he has to do, but he doesn’t feel the need to be better at it.  Imagine if anyone else could get away with that.  You might drive away from your mechanic and have one of your car tires fall off, but at least he attached the other three properly.  Or you might buy a house and have the east wall fall down, but at least the other three kept standing.  Or you might call the fire department and have them ignore you, but at least they respond most of the time.

Meanwhile if you give the same melon to a five-foot-tall twelve-year old, he will play for an hour and never miss a shot.


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