Friday, October 1, 2010

The Yum of Sport

It is important to open this topic by reassuring those who don't give a fig about sports that the Yummish Council is in no way suggesting it's necessary for them to do so. (Though you may want to try out my true favorite sport, if you haven't already.) As we know, each Seeker has his or her own unique path to the Ultimate YUM. You might, however, find today's discussion helpful in understanding those who do enjoy participating in and/or observing sporting matches.

It is true that sports can sometimes appear violent, what with tackles and body checks and rope-a-dope, etc. There is, however, another way of looking at it; namely that sports provide a controlled, socially acceptable way of expressing the aggression many of us carry or have carried at various times in our lives. Though sports may involve seemingly hostile acts, the rules both allowing and governing those acts were established and agreed upon beforehand by all involved. Therefore, while the game-play may be aggressive, there are no victims, only participants. Exorcising one's road rage by starting a fist fight in a parking lot is generally not beneficial to society. However, deciding to go a few rounds in the boxing ring at the gym after work provides the opportunity for a less socially destructive expression of that tension.

Watching sports, in person or via the broadcast method of your choice, can also bring a similar release of tension, allowing the viewer to be fully, but temporarily, emotionally engaged in passionate conflict, while avoiding physical risk themselves. (For a really long diatribe on the subject of Single Combat, go bother Tom Wolfe, but don't say we didn't warn you.)

Sports also bring diverse people together, providing a common ground for understanding and engendering positive feelings, a sense of community. Though the person may be a complete stranger to you, when you see them wearing your team's logo or sitting in your team's section, you feel connected to them. You feel positively inclined toward that person. You know you have at least one interest, one Yum, in common with them. Maybe you smile or wave or just exchange a glance. Either way, a small connection was made.

Sports also encourage people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to meet (be they from the other side of the county or the other side of the world) to join together to a common purpose, even if it is “only a game”. Though they may have nothing else in common and even support different teams, the game itself provides a basis for common understanding. Even if they can agree on nothing else, players and fans have elected to agree on the rules and structure of the game.

Ultimately sport allows us to express many of our less attractive human traits – aggression, competitiveness, tribalism – in less harmful ways.

Sports also give us the excuse to drink cold, hop-y adult beverages, eat nitrate-laden pig sandwiches and geek out over attractive hockey players*. Yum!

Today's Exercise: Root, root, root for the home team! (And for the senior member of the Yummish Council, we say “Boomer Sooner.”)

Next: Possibly something controversial about the concept of “free market economy”... or maybe another cookie recipe.

*Straight male and lesbian readers may feel free to replace the last item with an alternate Yum, such as the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, who are all also blindingly attractive.

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