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Old 08-10-2019, 08:05 PM
Mike Mabes is offline
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why do we care about sports?


Well hell. We've all seen Bull Durham. "I see great things in baseball. It’s our game, the American game. It will repair our losses and be a blessing to us.”

"You can look it up. " Attritubed to Walt Whitman. Too bad he didn't write it

https://www.latimes.com/sports/la-xp...328-story.html

He didn't write it, and I, for one, am glad. I am so tired of writers trying to turn baseball into some metaphor for American life. George Will has done it, Plimpton*, many others.

I don't like Joe Buck, calling baseball or football. But there was a game he was calling and for some reason he responded to fans criticism of him. They were saying he was biased against a certain team, and he responded "It's all just good fun". And I am sure he got vitrolic emails about it the next day.

But that is all it is, good fun. Baseball is not life nor a metaphor for life. So why do we care? Why was I so happy last night with the Miracle Mets comeback and looking so farward to tonight's game? The best explanation I've heard is from Crow on Mystery Science Theatre 3000 - "We've attached our egos to you"

*Plimton wrote a book about the NFL, Mad Ducks and Bears. Highly recommeded. It is hysterical, it has passages where I laughed harder than I have ever laughed reading a book, but there is a chapter where John Gordy, an offensive tackle for the Detroit Lions, described walking off the field after a loss - the "fans" screaming at him, calling him every name you can think of. Vitriolic hatred. Doctors and lawyers and such. About a ******* football game played by people they don't know.

Now I don't do that, I can't imagine hurling insults at a player - "Nice game pretty boy" - but I have done it watching on TV. A reliever comes in, gives up a game losing HR and I am saying "You bum!" I have felt anger at a fellow huuman being out there doing his best. Why? It's a ******* game played by people we don't know.

Last edited by Mike Mabes; 08-10-2019 at 08:08 PM.
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Old 08-10-2019, 08:14 PM
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Why do I care? Because I've played some sports. Nothing at anything other than neighborhood or playlot levels (other than racing) but I have done some. It makes me appreciate those who are really good at it. Put music down in the same category for me.

Favorite sports book? "A Pennant for the Kremlin" by Paul Molloy. OK - it's totally fiction and barely about baseball. But I love that book!
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Old 08-10-2019, 08:28 PM
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We're pack animals. Sport gives us a chance to express our tribalistic nature against clearly defined others in ritual combat for dominance. Those others even dress themselves in a clearly different way. Many fans show their tribal affiliation by dressing similarly. The metaphors around a sport can also serve as a tribalistic bonding device. We may root for different teams but we're bonded into some super-tribal organization by our love of that sport. There are far worse ways to express that deep primal urge.

As much as we try to pretend we're strictly rational in many ways we are all like Zaphod's name for Arthur Dent in Hitchhiker's Guide - monkey man.

Last edited by DinoR; 08-10-2019 at 08:29 PM.
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Old 08-11-2019, 12:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Mike Mabes View Post
Well hell. We've all seen Bull Durham. "I see great things in baseball. Itís our game, the American game. It will repair our losses and be a blessing to us.Ē

"You can look it up. " Attritubed to Walt Whitman. Too bad he didn't write it

https://www.latimes.com/sports/la-xp...328-story.html

He didn't write it, and I, for one, am glad. I am so tired of writers trying to turn baseball into some metaphor for American life. George Will has done it, Plimpton*, many others.

I don't like Joe Buck, calling baseball or football. But there was a game he was calling and for some reason he responded to fans criticism of him. They were saying he was biased against a certain team, and he responded "It's all just good fun". And I am sure he got vitrolic emails about it the next day.

But that is all it is, good fun. Baseball is not life nor a metaphor for life. So why do we care? Why was I so happy last night with the Miracle Mets comeback and looking so farward to tonight's game? The best explanation I've heard is from Crow on Mystery Science Theatre 3000 - "We've attached our egos to you"

*Plimton wrote a book about the NFL, Mad Ducks and Bears. Highly recommeded. It is hysterical, it has passages where I laughed harder than I have ever laughed reading a book, but there is a chapter where John Gordy, an offensive tackle for the Detroit Lions, described walking off the field after a loss - the "fans" screaming at him, calling him every name you can think of. Vitriolic hatred. Doctors and lawyers and such. About a ******* football game played by people they don't know.

Now I don't do that, I can't imagine hurling insults at a player - "Nice game pretty boy" - but I have done it watching on TV. A reliever comes in, gives up a game losing HR and I am saying "You bum!" I have felt anger at a fellow huuman being out there doing his best. Why? It's a ******* game played by people we don't know.
You didnt even read the article you quoted.

Quote:
As you can see, the Bull Durhamline is essentially just a simplified version of the statement that Traubel relayed from Whitman. Does that count? I think so. Later on, by the way, in Volume 4 (published after Traubelís death), Whitman spoke more about baseball (this time in April of 1889), in glowing terms:

Baseball is the hurrah game of the republic! Thatís beautiful: the hurrah game! wellóitís our game: thatís the chief fact in connection with it: Americaís game: has the snap, go, fling, of the American atmosphereóbelongs as much to our institutions, fits into them as significantly, as our constitutions, laws: is just as important in the sum total of our historic life.

In any event, I think the real quote is close enough to the real quote that I am willing to say that the legend is...

STATUS: True (just with a massive caveat that the quote is a simplified paraphrasing of the actual quote).
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Old 08-11-2019, 02:43 AM
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Sports are entertainment that you haven't seen before, and will likely never see again, except perhaps on a highlight show.
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Old 08-11-2019, 06:21 AM
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I don't know who said it but there is a quote about how sports are the only TV show no one knows how it will end.
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Old 08-11-2019, 09:41 AM
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A big part of the enjoyment from watching (or playing) sports comes from pretending that it matters who wins.

If it really did matter who won, that would make all of the action and the striving and the choices made by the players and coaches interesting and important.

So, analogous to how enjoying a fictional narrative involves a willing suspension of disbelief, enjoying a ball game involves a willing suspension of disinterestedness.
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Old 08-12-2019, 08:49 AM
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But it DOES matter. If it didn't matter, people wouldn't spend time and money watching it.

It only matters for reasons related to enjoyment and drama, but that has import and value.
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Old 08-12-2019, 09:41 AM
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There are been many studies into what happens to people neurologically when they watch sports. Without getting into too much detail when we watch sports parts of our brain react as if we were actually participating. This is pronounced if we actually have some experience playing the sport. Also various chemicals are released in the brain while watching sports such as dopamine which affects the brains reward and pleasure centers. Testosterone levels rise when a fan's team is doing well and the stress hormone cortisol rises during close games. Other scientists have discovered similarities to the way the brain acts when watching sports to how it acts when hunting prey.

We watch sports because we get a real, measurable high from it and it's cheaper than heroin.

Last edited by Pixel_Dent; 08-12-2019 at 09:42 AM.
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Old 08-12-2019, 09:58 AM
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There's something about humans and ball games. Whatever it is, I don't have it, and I don't understand it; but I can see that it exists.

I'm also curious about why it exists; but am not really expecting an answer.

As far as watching competitive sports in general: I wonder whether this isn't a ritualized way to deal with the competitiveness urge: to channel it specifically into something that in many ways doesn't matter. For this to work, people have to be mostly convinced on some level that it does matter; but it has to not affect most people's lives outside of the structure of the game itself. I'm not sure whether it actually works as a defusing mechanism, though.
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Old 08-13-2019, 06:50 AM
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I'm getting old; I care about sports maybe half or even less than half as much as I used to. I can't afford to be a sports fanatic anymore since the games come on too late in the East and since sports TV packages cost an arm and a leg.

I miss the West Coast: early start/finish times and surprisingly cheap beer, which they tax the shit out of in many parts East of the Mississip
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Old 08-13-2019, 12:30 PM
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Sports are the original reality show, except (mostly) not scripted. Plus, the sports I follow, I know how hard it is to do, and I can see how it looks when it is done well.

The Chinese term "kung-fu" doesn't specifically refer to martial arts - it applies to all kinds of physical expertise. A good chef has kung-fu, when he chops expertly.

My dad was a veterinary surgeon, and I used to like to watch him work. I was assisting him once doing a spay on a pregnant bitch. He was talking on the phone via headset to a client about a completely different matter, and the hands just went by themselves - clip clip clip slice ligate ligate ligate snip snip and he tossed the gravid uterus off to the side without even glancing, and it landed in the exact center of the slop bucket.

"Geez, dad, did you see what you did?"

"What - did I miss?"

"No, you hit dead center."

"Well - it's not the first time I've done this."

He popularized a procedure for chronic urinary infections in male cats, where you castrate the animal, amputate the penis, and then reroute the ureter so the cat pees out his butt. I asked him how he learned to do it - he said he read about it in his journals, recognized all the surgical techniques, and practiced a bit on dead cats and then started doing it, with a record of pretty much unbroken success.

My dad had kung fu, as much as Bruce Lee or any pro quarterback.

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 08-13-2019, 12:42 PM
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As I get older I definitely care less and less. But, I do still care to a degree. For some people I suppose there is a sense of community. Getting to be part of the pack, rooting for a common interest. For me, it's the competition. I love to compete and I love to watch others compete. Going any deeper than that I start to wonder why we care about anything at all.
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Old 08-13-2019, 12:46 PM
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What DinoR said. Sports is a peaceful form of warfare. It allows us to get our natural, ingrained, us-vs-them out of our system in a (mostly) harmless way. India and Pakistan may hate each other, but much better that they vent it on the cricket field than with nukes.
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Old 08-13-2019, 01:39 PM
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Why do we care about music, or the theatre, or movies, or award shows? They are just as "useless" but many people care about them too.
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Old 08-13-2019, 02:01 PM
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It all boils down to the fact that humans are predators/hunters. Sports, video games, action movies, etc are all outlets for that insatiable drive in all of us.
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Old 08-13-2019, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by RickJay View Post
But it DOES matter. If it didn't matter, people wouldn't spend time and money watching it.

It only matters for reasons related to enjoyment and drama, but that has import and value.
I bet on sports. I wouldn't watch them if I didn't - well, I'd still probably watch Formula 1 and the World Series, but that's it. Having money on a game adds a level of personal involvement that massively magnifies the drama and suspense, and also incentivizes studying the strategies used in the competition and paying close attention to what happens.
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Old 08-14-2019, 09:48 AM
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But it DOES matter. If it didn't matter, people wouldn't spend time and money watching it.

It only matters for reasons related to enjoyment and drama, but that has import and value.

I think that's the point. Humans naturally glom onto things that "matter" to us. We like to focus all our passion and energy into those things, especially when we do so with large groups of like-minded people. Sporting events give people something to care about with the same level of passion we usually reserve for stuff like going to war with our annoying neighbors, hating politicians, or attacking people who look or act different from us. And unlike movies or theater, it's real life competition.

What I mean to say is ehe results of the game don't "matter" in any real meaningful sense (i.e., we don't put all Boston fans to death when the Sox lose the world series, economies don't collapse, national boundaries don't change, etc.) Maybe the worst thing that happens is some minor celebratory rioting or Giselle tells Tom Brady no more sex until he wins another Super Bowl ring. But because they don't matter, it's safe for people to act like it is the most important thing in the world.
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Old 08-14-2019, 10:17 AM
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Not here to kibbitz or threadshit or anything. I mostly don't care about sports. It occurs to me that this thread in the Game Room is going to result in self-selection by people who do. Would my participation make a useful contribution?

I suspect that sports are a diversion from things that are important but which we don't have sufficient control over or input into; they engage emotions that we'd like to have connected to outcomes of things that matter, but we mostly don't get to have that. And then as a consequence of that we care about the outcome of specific sports events because of the resulting emotional investment. So it's a type of surrogacy, I think.
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Old 08-14-2019, 10:24 AM
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What I mean to say is the results of the game don't "matter" in any real meaningful sense (i.e., we don't put all Boston fans to death when the Sox lose the world series, economies don't collapse, national boundaries don't change, etc.)
But it does matter in a very real sense. Stock markets have actually been known to go up or down based off of sports performance. Entire national psyches can be affected. The movie Invictus is about how South African rugby managed to unite a nation with deep racial divides. The performance of a sports team can affect political elections. There is also a huge economic impact from sports because of the billions of dollars that flow here and there. It is most definitely not just "someone holding a stick hitting a ball," there is a very real tangible effect.
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:14 AM
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You didnt even read the article you quoted.

Did you read it? Because you cited the wrong text!

Quote:
Here is the quote from With Walt Whitman in Camden, vol. 2(stated by Whitman in September 1888):

I like your interest in sports ball, chiefest of all base-ball particularly: base-ball is our game: the American game: I connect it with our national character. Sports take people out of doors, get them filled with oxygen generate some of the brutal customs (so-called brutal customs) which, after all, tend to habituate people to a necessary physical stoicism. We are some ways a dyspeptic, nervous set: anything which will repair such losses may be regarded as a blessing to the race. We want to go out and howl, swear, run, jump, wrestle, even fight, if only by so doing we may improve the guts of the people: the guts, vile as guts are, divine as guts are!
... bolding mine to emphasize the paraphrased quote.

To the OP, technically, I suppose, Whitman did not write it... but he say it so the attribution is correct.
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:42 PM
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I bet on sports. I wouldn't watch them if I didn't - well, I'd still probably watch Formula 1 and the World Series, but that's it. Having money on a game adds a level of personal involvement that massively magnifies the drama and suspense, and also incentivizes studying the strategies used in the competition and paying close attention to what happens.
So you intentionally bet real money in order to turn something that you wouldn't otherwise watch into something you would watch? This seems like the opposite of rational, but then again, people do the same thing with alcohol to turn things they wouldn't do into things they like doing and don't seem to recognize the absurdity of it, so I guess it's par for the course with humans doing self-destructive things just for a bit of perceived entertainment. Of course, there's no difference between perceived entertainment and actual entertainment for most people, but there definitely is for me - I can point to one specific moment in my life where my dad did something that let me know that just because I thought what I was doing was entertaining me didn't mean that it actually was in real terms. Ok, he really just said something like "turn that show off; it's for babies", but when he effectively told me that I could no longer be legitimately entertained by something designed for babies, I should be more circumspect about the choices I make for entertainment. If you intentionally do something stupid just to have fun, you may want to reconsider what you're doing.

Personally, if I put money on a sporting event, it would be because I thought I had an edge in research over the market. I also wouldn't be able to stand watching the game play out, but would prefer just to see the results. I do casual prediction games for sumo tournaments (no money, but pride), and it really helps that the competitions are like around 5am in the morning in my time zone so there's no real way I can watch live.
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Old 08-15-2019, 08:04 AM
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So you intentionally bet real money in order to turn something that you wouldn't otherwise watch into something you would watch? This seems like the opposite of rational, but then again, people do the same thing with alcohol to turn things they wouldn't do into things they like doing and don't seem to recognize the absurdity of it, so I guess it's par for the course with humans doing self-destructive things just for a bit of perceived entertainment. Of course, there's no difference between perceived entertainment and actual entertainment for most people, but there definitely is for me - I can point to one specific moment in my life where my dad did something that let me know that just because I thought what I was doing was entertaining me didn't mean that it actually was in real terms. Ok, he really just said something like "turn that show off; it's for babies", but when he effectively told me that I could no longer be legitimately entertained by something designed for babies, I should be more circumspect about the choices I make for entertainment. If you intentionally do something stupid just to have fun, you may want to reconsider what you're doing.

Personally, if I put money on a sporting event, it would be because I thought I had an edge in research over the market. I also wouldn't be able to stand watching the game play out, but would prefer just to see the results. I do casual prediction games for sumo tournaments (no money, but pride), and it really helps that the competitions are like around 5am in the morning in my time zone so there's no real way I can watch live.
I've watched exactly one day of American football since 2013 and that was when three friends and I traveled to a newly opened sports book in West Virginia for an outing last year. Football's only redeeming quality in my eyes is how great a sport it is to gamble on.

I watch one sport because I find the skill and competition enjoyable but I can't say that I actually care about the outcomes very much.
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Old 08-15-2019, 08:06 AM
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Of course, there's no difference between perceived entertainment and actual entertainment for most people, but there definitely is for me.,..
You aren't special and your opinions about what is or is not entertaining have no relevance to other people and do not in any way make sense outside of your own head. If other people say they find sports entertaining, you should assume they are correct, because they know better than anyone what entertains them, and their opinions about entertainment are more valid than yours in terms of their subjective experience.

Part of being a grownup is getting past the stage of "what I enjoy is correct and what you enjoy is wrong." That is, if I may be perfectly frank, utter crap and the sort of thing one expects from dull-witted teenagers, not functioning adults. Every single moment you spend in your life criticizing what other people enjoy watching, listening to, or doing for entertainment is completely wasted. In fact, it's more than wasted; it's bad for you. It's a net negative in your life and everyone else's. I used to be as guilty of this as anyone and I am a much smarter and better person for coming to the realization that, when I criticized other people for enjoying different movies, shows, music and diversions than me, I was being an insufferable asshole.

If other people like stuff you don't, what you should do is be happy they are enjoying something, and ask nothing more than they let you enjoy the things you like.
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Old 08-15-2019, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Sparky812 View Post
Did you read it? Because you cited the wrong text!

... bolding mine to emphasize the paraphrased quote.

To the OP, technically, I suppose, Whitman did not write it... but he say it so the attribution is correct.
I missed this - anything which will repair such losses may be regarded as a blessing to the race.

Ok so forget that part of my post
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Old 08-17-2019, 03:31 PM
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As far as being delighted by the Mets comeback....I'll bring up Harpers recent grandslam walk-off. If one can't enjoy that just as a human being....I don't know whats wrong.

Baseball is a great game. Though better in person. anything can happen in any game. On TV....well....i'm getting old and my attention span* is affected, but its still great to clean the house to.

*Not only that but my ability to handle tension. For the Red Sox, I'll usually watch just the first game of a playoff series and then check in time to time on the following games. If the tension is really bad, I'll go to sleep just so i can wake up and check when the game is over. You can imagine how bad that 17 inning WS game was....how many times I'd wake up, check, and say "Are you shitting me".

I was just checking Twitter when Kinsler had his horrible error, so all I'm reading is a screen full of "OHMYGODS!! NOOOOOO"....I think i cried a little cause i knew how bad he felt, how bad this would affect the bullpen, how much the difference is between being up 3-0 and 2-1 is.


I'm ranting....baseball is great. The Sox this year not so much. They're unbearable this year....but it could be worse. They could be the Orioles.
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Old 08-17-2019, 05:17 PM
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So you intentionally bet real money in order to turn something that you wouldn't otherwise watch into something you would watch? This seems like the opposite of rational, but then again, people do the same thing with alcohol to turn things they wouldn't do into things they like doing and don't seem to recognize the absurdity of it, so I guess it's par for the course with humans doing self-destructive things just for a bit of perceived entertainment.
It's very rational. I'm essentially buying drama. I'm buying tension. I'm buying a feeling that wouldn't be there if I didn't have some kind of personal stake in the game. It's a feeling that beats the hell out of watching any movie or TV show or playing a video game. I bet enough to make the game interesting, but not enough to really hurt me if I lose.

Edit: as to the above post, there is no sport that brings the tension and drama like baseball. Not everyone has the patience for it....it's kind of like cranking a jack-in-the-box. When something happens, it HAPPENS!

Last edited by Lamoral; 08-17-2019 at 05:20 PM.
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