I really wanted to like today’s SB Nation Longform piece, “Why Sports Matter,” because answering this question is the chief reason for me revamping this blog.
And then I clicked on the link to discover the following as the true headline: “Obama vs. Romney: The hot shot vs. the GM.”
For the love of God.
I feel tricked, if not betrayed. While the story, written by former New York State legislator Richard Brodsky, is well-done and evocative, it’s an attempt to answer the original question in a purely political context, to draw understandable attention (and eyeballs) a couple of weeks before a very close presidential election.
The candidates’ love for sports is undeniable and genuine, and I don’t take issue with how Brodsky discusses what sports have meant to the biography of each man. But then I read this:
“Sports remain a window to the American soul; fandom and participation are valid measures of leadership.”
What about the rest of us? Brodsky explains what he learned about market ideology by playing lacrosse at Brandeis, but doesn’t offer a glimpse into the window of his soul.
And that’s what’s missing from this otherwise noble attempt to flesh out this overarching question — why do sports matter to so many of us? — to a campaign for the White House.
There really is no connection, and we have to go back to “The Joy of Sports” to find where the kernels of truth really reside. Michael Novak knows where, and it contains no ideology or political creed. It is, he asserts, “The Natural Religion,” which must by necessity be detached from raw political realities:
“Sports are our chief civilizing agent. Sports are our most universal art form. Sports tutor us in the basic lived experiences of the humanist tradition.
“The hunger for perfection in sports cleaves closely to the driving core of the human spirit.”
After the election, perhaps Brodsky can take another stab at it from this perspective, and not the one he has chosen today.