- Written by Nikko Saigon
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They’re metaphors for life and stuff
There are few human endeavours as uncannily beautiful as sports. They connect us to our inner cavemen — behaviour that would get you arrested in the real world is perfectly acceptable if done in the act of sports. Kicking strangers in the shins is fine between the lines of a football field. It’s OK to shoot rubber projectiles at a stranger’s head, provided you are both standing on ice and holding sticks. Martial artists slap people for fun.
Barbaric as they may be, sports are refreshing in their simplicity. There are a thousand ways to finish an email, but only one way to finish a marathon: run the whole goddamn race. The novelist Harry Crews once said, “If you tell me you can bench press 450, hell, we’ll load up the bar and put you under it. Either you can do it or you can’t… Ultimately, sports are just about as close to what one would call the truth as it is possible to get in this world.”
He was a novelist, so he must’ve been smart.
We like to live in our heads. Entire industrial complexes are dedicated to making sure we stay there. Our heads can be escaped in any number of ways, but some of the most legal and easily accessible are sports.
There’s a reason that terms like ‘runner’s high’ have entered the vernacular. If you’re a sports mystic, perhaps you immediately thought of the ‘zone’, a transcendent state of being where basketball hoops seem as wide as oceans and goalkeepers are no more hindrance than the breeze.
It’s the dragon chased by yogis and saints, a feeling of perfect balance, mastery without mastery. And it’s attainable through playing games, not starving yourself or sitting motionless in the woods.
So It Goes…
Yet many people still claim to dislike sports. Their explanations are varied and occasionally hilarious. For some, the root cause might be a traumatic dodgeball incident from childhood. Others pin their disinterest on a (justifiable) loathing of sports’ hot-take culture. Or maybe they just don’t like getting sweaty.
All of these people are dumb.
A life without sports is no life at all. Here, it may be helpful to remember that ‘sports’ is an awfully broad term that covers everything from BMX racing to bandying a shuttlecock in the park. Chess is not a sport; neither is darts*. But any activity rooted in physicality can be a sport. Just check out the competitive woodchoppers on ESPN3.
Niko Savvas wrote this article. He supports the murder of trees
*They Just Aren’t
Maybe you’ll find it puerile — a pack of neckless troglodytes grunting and sweating through trials of machismo. But smother the impulse to deconstruct and criticize. You’re being a dick. There’s something beautiful at work, if you’re open-minded or drunk enough to see it.
Pick out an athlete and examine them closely. Look at the veins bulging in their neck. See how dark and dilated their pupils are. Watch them huff staccato breaths, and ask yourself: when was the last time you wanted anything that badly?
Chop wood, everybody.