Saturday, February 21, 2009

Fair Play

Back in the summer, at a friend’s birthday party at a club, I sat next to an interesting person, another writer, who had grown up in Canada but was originally from somewhere in South America. I don’t recall exactly where. What I remembered mostly about her was her agitation. She couldn’t sit still in her seat. Why? Because the Lakers were playing. Was it a playoff game? Possibly. I don’t remember because I don’t follow sports, most likely for the reason that she does. She’s so invested in the outcome of the game that she couldn’t be present and enjoy the evening. Her partner went into bar to check the score. She’d look expectantly, almost fearfully at her partner’s face. She couldn’t take if the Lakers messed up and didn’t score. Knowing would ruin her whole evening. Wasn’t it already ruined because she spent the night ruminating over the outcome? I say ruminating but really she squawked and squeaked, “Lakers” when cheers belted from the bar. More interesting to me was the fact that she and her fellow writing staff of the Soap Opera she worked for was up for an Emmy. She had a real potential to win but she seemed almost blasĂ© about it in comparison to her consternation over the Lakers. I can see where I’m projecting my priorities but winning an Emmy is a far higher stake than what your favorite sports team is doing. It’s just your career and future as a TV writer. But maybe that reality was too much to bear… and focusing on your sports team is far easier.

I still find it hard to understand why people get so worked up about sports. It is just a game, is it not? There’s always another season… And is not the fun in it in the playing and not just the winning? Oh, if only I could do statistical analysis as to the potential for one person to always win what they play. In the way the game is structured, there is a winner and a loser; or is that just a perception? Isn’t the true essence of game play about how well we participate?

I asked the writer why she got so worked up about a “game”. I believe I threw her because perhaps she hadn’t thought about it. She’d played basketball ih high school and she thought maybe she put herself in the other sportsmen’s shoes. Something about missing a shot. Isn’t there always another shot to be made? I remembered this exchange because of a news item I first saw on the Rachel Maddow show.

A high school basketball player who technically was bared from the game wanted to play because his mom had just died that day and he really needed to play. In order to let him play, the rival team would have to take a penalty shot. They wanted to forgo this but rules were rules so they had to take the shot. What happened? The player missed it on purpose. I cried when I saw this because compassion won over competition. I saw the true essence of game play. They forewent the rigid rules to play what they felt to be a fair game. Perhaps in light of the high-paid ball player admitting to steroid use this past few week, he and his fellow players can relearn their own game, that true sportsmanship truly is about how you play the game… and that fair game always wins, no matter the score...

1 comment:

it's that mykle! said...

that was beautiful! The last line made me cry.