Saturday, June 14, 2003

When I hear someone say "I don't like sports," it's all I can do to keep from shaking my head in disappointment. "I don't like sports" is one of the most intellectually lazy statements I've ever heard an academic make. What exactly do you mean when you say that? I don't like college basketball? I don't like pro football? I don't like watching my niece's Little League games? I don't like throwing the frisbee around in the backyard? Does it mean you think rugby is too violent? Does it mean you think people who marathons need to see a shrink? What exactly does the phrase "I don't like sports" mean?

Not liking golf is a whole heck of a lot different than not liking lacrosse. Not liking to play baseball is different than not liking to go jogging in the morning. "Sports" is such an enormous term, it's almost an empty signifier. You can't possibly know what it means w/out elaboration, and people who tend toward the phrase "I don't like sports" never seem to think it needs any more explanation.

Anyone who can go to a college football game and not find something to engage with intellectually is more shallow than the stagnant pool of standing water next to my garden in my backyard. Like mathematics? It's there if you want to see it. Like cultural criticism? It's there, and you don't even have to dig very deeply. Like history? It's there. Like drama? It's there. Physics? Sociology? Law? Economics? It's there.

I guess I really don't understand how all these educated folks standing around me can so easily dismiss such a wide range of activities, especially when they'd be hard pressed to name a civilization that hasn't produced some sort of athletic competition or leisure games. How can you know anything about a culture if you choose to ignore such a significant part of its structure?

Well, all I know is that once someone has lost my respect with the "I don't like sports" statement, they have a hard time gaining it back. It can be done, but it's going to take some work.

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