Tag Archives: sports

Go Read Brian Phillips’ “Your Stupid Rage”

I am here to save your life, and I’m not kidding. This isn’t about the state of discourse on the internet, or nostalgia for some imaginary pastoral of 1950s civility, or making sure I don’t get yelled at in blog comments. This is about you, and how you are going to live in the world. I mean how you’re going to live as a sports fan, but let there be no limit to the revelation: I mean how you’re going to live in every other way, too.

Brian Phillips’ screed on rage in soccer is one of those pieces I would love to force everyone I know to read. It’s through-and-through wonderful, and touches on the disturbing trend of how politics have become a sport, how internet culture has infected everything, and how miserable it is to let rage consume you.

Not to spoil the end, but this is too beautiful to not quote:

> The secret is to care, I mean really care, about something other than your club. That thing can be the game itself, or the truth, or just being a reasonable person. You can care about something other than your club and still be totallysupercommitted to your club. It doesn’t mean not supporting your team through thick and thin; it just means being able to tell the difference between thick and thin, and not thinking that your favorite forum, or your group of like-minded supporters, is so important that it throws reality on the wrong end of a greater-than sign. It means doing this for fun, and not for revenge or for a sense of deep-down defining identity, even if you’re a crazy tattooed ultra. You can be a crazy tattooed ultra and still be fine, for that matter. You just can’t be an idiot.

An Abridged List Of Sports Miracles

The 1980 Men’s Hockey team beating the Russians at the buzzer.

The 1984 Miami-Boston college playoff, where Doug Flutie threw a hail mary to win the game.

Manchester United winning the Premiership, the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League in the 1998-1999 season.

The Red Sox sweeping the 2004 World Series.

The Cornell Men’s Basketball team getting an automatic seed for the 2008 NCAA Tournament.


To every action, there are consequences.

Few actions will illustrate this as well as Zinedine Zidane’s vicious headbutt in the 110th minute of the World Cup final. One moment of stupidity and anger overshadows every contribution, every minute played. Even the miraculous goal he scored in the 7th is quickly forgotten.

And worse, his removal – and lack of expertise during penalties – may have been enough to push Italy over the top. I don’t enjoy condemning teams solely on the actions of one player, but I am overjoyed to see Italy win.

[The Guardian](http://football.guardian.co.uk/worldcup2006/minbymin/0,,1788448,00.html):

> It’s hard to do justice to just how horrible that headbutt was – you instinctively recoil like you’re the victim; it’s brutal, you feel the teeth grinding as he rams into Materazzi. You feel your eyelids instinctively magnetising with every replay; it’s as unwatchable as that bit in Scream when Drew Barrymore has her little skinny tummy sliced and diced. That really, erm, put the ‘no!’ in ‘denouement’. Or maybe it was denouemental. I don’t know; I’m tired. But it makes for the most spectacular drama.


One thing I’ve learned living in Astoria is that no matter who wins, the car horns begin honking soon after.

For once, I’m looking forward to it.

Sport On Telly

Over the last few years, there’s been a fair amount of derision of some US television channels for what they choose to define as a “sport program”. Depending on how entertained you are by the programming, your personal limit may be spelling bees, scrabble tournaments, texas hold’em, fishing, or possibly even golf.

That said, England has (at least) three sporting delicacies I’ve taken in during portions of my evenings at the hotel room:
First, **snooker**. Now, pool is no stranger to American television, but it’s generally 8-ball, sometimes 9, and often just trick shots. Snooker, on the other hand, doesn’t get televised much because…well, it’s slightly more dull than 8-ball, and certainly more complicated. Still, interesting to watch, if for no other reason than puzzling out the rules. (Alternately, you could [just read them](http://www.billiardworld.com/snooker.html).)

Next, **cricket**. Oh, the much derided cricket. While the game is possibly torture to those with ADD – test matches last five days, after all – it is actually entertaining. Finally seeing it played and being able to reconcile [the rules](http://www.cs.purdue.edu/homes/hosking/cricket/explanation.htm) against what’s happening are a great help. My god, it even actually looks fun.

By now you may be thinking, “He’s just going for the traditional British sports. Rugby will undoubtedly be the third.” And you, my friend, would be wrong. The third sport I’ve been prone to watch is somewhat tied into snooker, in that you’re likely to see it in a pub, but it’s about as far from Rugby as you can get.

If I said I spent a good half an hour last night watching [Premier League Darts](http://www.planetdarts.tv/page/PremierLeague/0,,10180,00.html), would you believe me?

If I told you that I was shocked that there were about 300 rowdy spectators – all cheering and cat-calling at the right times – would you believe me?

If I claimed that the throwers had entrance music and body guards, making the whole thing seem eerily close to professional wrestling, would you believe me?

Okay, here’s a stretch: would you believe that it was actually entertaining? Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either.

(To those concerned that we’re spending our lives in the hotel room, trust me, we are not. Check the Flickr pool.)