Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

An Island of Catharis

September 22, 2014 Leave a comment

Are men less emotional than females? A 2012 study of Irish males who attempted suicide found that, despite their experience of emotional vulnerability, a cultural hegemony discouraged their expressions. The men, according to the study felt emotionally vulnerable but were unable to speak to their emotions and chose suicide as a viable solution. What restrained their expression? Their sense of “masculinity norms” that constricted their ability to speak of what they felt.

One wonders how broadly these conclusions can be applied to global masculine behaviors. Does a global hegemony of masculine norms constrict male expression of emotion? One need only listen to a Sunday post-game show to hear a fountain of emotion. Listen to sports radio and one can hear a buffet of dread, concern, alarm, and stress that borders on a funeral.

On the morning following the loss of a local NFL football team, this author writes of an experience of hearing incredible expressions of male emotion. Sunday is, it seems, a day of great catharsis for the bevy of local football fans whose hopes lie pinned to a roster of fifty three professional football players. My goal is not to mock these men; instead, I seek to indicate a stark phenomenon of culture. Is sports radio an island of catharsis?

Imitation Simulation: Jerseys, Cash and Who?

January 31, 2014 Leave a comment

Endorsed as an “authentic replica”, an athlete’s jersey is expensive fabric gold. Part gem of memory and portal to a hero, it is a piece of clothing defined through multiple points of meaning. “Did he wear it in the game?” If so its value is far greater. “Is it dirty, bloody or torn?” Such tarnish is not filth: one might see that blood as liquid, reddened gold.

These jerseys are replicas of those worn by professional athletes. Not simply generic, standard issue, they come with the name of the athlete labeled on the back. One is “buying the player’s jersey”. What purpose is there in wearing another person’s jersey? Does John Doe, wearing Lebron’s jersey work to imitate LeBron?  Is it support or something deeper?

Jerseys that are endorsed by the NBA or the specific team hold a certain level of credo. What’s marketed as “authentic” is a realistic imitation of those worn in the game. Maybe the fabric is similar or the graphics are exactly as the team desires. These jerseys are expensive; though, and imitation jerseys, not endorsed by either group, exist and sell for far less.

What do we make of these “imitations of imitations”? Do these fakeries work to destroy the market? If any jersey works than why buy the best? Is it to support the team? One would provide more assistance in buying the imitation jersey for much less and mailing the difference to the team.

By Common Games and Hobbies

March 10, 2013 1 comment

How much can we relate to another by our common hobbies and games? I play basketball and so do you- do we better understand each other via this common behavior? If I have played a game I have likely experienced the same flights of glee and disappointment that you have. We also play videogames. Have you played that certain title? Oh, you have? Wasn’t that one level exciting? Oh, you struggled to? So did I, so did I.

Common experiences may not help us understand another’s perspective of the world, but it remains a shared experience nonetheless. Globalization has allowed culture to spread throughout the world. So vast has this expansion spread cultural items that a North Korean boy can play the same videogame that I can. Of course not all North Korean boys can play that game but certainly one can, and did, as the media has reported.

If reports are true, Kim Jung-un, the recently “appointed”? supreme leader of North Korea, enjoyed playing videogames. Did he play the games that I played? Has he struggled through the same levels that I have? Did he grow frustrated on that one way too difficult mission as I did? Videogames were an essential component of my childhood. They provided me with hours of entertainment and functioned as the dominant source of narrative in my life. What books and film were to older generations, videogames were for me and many in my generation, the major way we learned the narrative form.

Put bluntly, my brain has been where Jung-un’s brain has been. Though separate, we’ve ventured through the same pixelated mazes and puzzles. Do I know him more for sharing this? How much can we assume to be shared via these common behaviors? Do my hobbies make me know you? Do you know me by the games we’ve played?

Performance Entire

June 21, 2012 1 comment

Often a great performance is seen as a triumph of the individual. The athlete’s buzzer-beating shot or musician’s lyrical breakthrough become personal feats against the odds, moments when; despite all assumptions, a conclusion was defied and reality was redefined. Too often internal factors are given credit as talent and skill sponge up the reason for the performance. This is a simplification that disregards the more numerous external factors that played a factor. As an example, consider the athlete:

In the final seconds of a basketball game, one player will hold the ball and possess an opportunity that other players do not. Possessing the ball, this player has the direct ability to change the score. Hindering his or her ability are the external factors acting for or against the ability to affect the score. We can re-categorize the player’s team members as everyone working for an action that benefits the player and likewise the player’s opponents are anyone working against the player. What of the other factors? The fans in the stand, the external factors of weather, uninvolved sounds and the countless other “non-game” factors within the player’s perception. Anything perceivable by the player becomes a component affecting the player.

When we fail to consider these factors we fail to see the true sport. The greatest moments in sports are not so much triumphs of great athletes but moments of incredible luck, times of whimsy when the world shut down briefly to allow success. Are these religious moments? Perhaps for some they are, but what we can know is that great performances are moments of incredible rhythm where the plethora of factors that make up our world gel in such a way to allow a player’s intention to take place. View a great performance and see the individual’s majesty on display, take heed of the great skill and perhaps assume such skill is beyond one’s ability. Say, “I couldn’t do that” or “He’s amazing,” but be aware of such a hazard. One may find these moments of witness as assuring signs for self-doubt, but what of the other factors. Should we not everything at work. Should not the greatest gust of awe go to the sheer absurdity of the moment.

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