Sunday, November 23, 2008

Entertainment As Pain

In 1992, Nick Hornby wrote Fever Pitch, a memoir of his obsessive allegiance to the English Soccer team Arsenal. Now I have little to no respect at all for the sport of soccer (if you're American, don't call it football) but his insight on the burden born by fans crosses any cultural barriers.

He speaks of sports being the only source of entertainment that is directly associated with pain. And since it is just entertainment, that pain is always self inflicted which is in and of itself absurd. But especially since such profound pain is experienced at the cost of something as trivial and meaningless as a soccer game (fill you sport here) that makes it all that much more indefensible. It's one thing to feel empty and defeated as a result of real life failure. But to allow such a trite, insignificant thing as a damn football game make you feel truly despondent, well that adds a level of self criticism into the equation. Why am I so stupid that I let myself care so damn much?

By the way, please do not associate this book one bit with the pile of smoldering feces that is that Jimmy Fallon / Drew Barrymore abomination. Red Sox fans deserved more.

But back to Hornby. In light of the game which will never again be mentioned (see previous post), I would like to share with you an excerpt that articulates my conflict quite nicely:

I had discovered … that loyalty, at least in football terms, was not a moral choice like bravery or kindness; it was more like a wart or a hump, something you were stuck with. Marriages are nowhere near as rigid — you won't catch any Arsenal fans slipping off to Tottenham for a bit of extra-marital slap and tickle, and though divorce is a possibility (you can just stop going if things get too bad), getting hitched again is out of the question.

You're stuck. Integrity prevents you from leaving, no matter how badly betrayed you may feel. Again. It's all just so stupid. Here is a link to a previous post I wrote when my Red Sox went down in flames last month. This loss is much much more painful.

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