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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Sports, why?

Dear Nurse Dave,
Are you aware that people really, really like sports? Can you explain this phenomenon?
Paul, St. Paul, MN

First of all Paul, we have to understand that people are searching for meaning in life. People want each day to have some kind of purpose and some kind of fulfillment. This search can be difficult and sometimes even distressing so many people abandon this search and instead become interested in sports. Sports seems to fill a hole in life by offering a completely inane happening and assigning great importance to it. In the grand scheme of life is it important that a man can't kick an oblong ball through two yellow poles? Of course not this can't mean anything but however it can mean everything.

There are countless people out there with no meaning in their lives and therefore have nothing to talk about.  Again this is where sports fills a hole.  Two male coworkers at the University of Phoenix making phone calls to sell people on attending college may not have much to talk about or  a lot in common.  They can talk about sports.  When conversation starts to die at a boring dinner party, what can be done?  Bring up sports.  When I meet another male nurse what's the first thing I do?  I see if he likes sports.  Holes need to be filled.

So Paul the appeal of sports is that we can care a whole lot about something that doesn't really matter at all and then talk to other people about it. This is a lot easier than caring about something that actually matters. When I was 18 I attended a world series game in Yankee Stadium. The Yankees were down and Chuck Knoblauch hit a 3 run homer. The stadium erupted. A little bit later the bases were loaded.   I turned to my dad and said the only thing that could make this cooler is if Tino hits a grand slam. Tino  hit the grand slam.  I was high fiving and hugging people I'd never met before.  I don't even like to hug people I know. 50,000 people were going nuts and it seemed as if something really important had happened.  It was like watching the Moon Landing with 50,000 people but even cooler because the event didn't bring up any deeper questions.  And I was there, I was a part of it. Now its 15 years later. Tino just got fired from being a hitting instructor because he was verbally abusive to players. Chuck Knoblauch got the Yips only a year or so after he hit the homer. He could no longer make accurate throws while playing second base. He went from being one of the best fielding second basemen in the sport to being unable to throw the ball to first. I know these facts because I was there for the World Series. I know these facts because somehow despite everything they seem important to me. I know these facts so that I can have meaningless conversations. Paul I too love sports. I enjoy watching something that I know means nothing and reacting in the moment as if it means everything. 

1998 - Yes I believe that is a mock turtle neck I'm wearing
 and no mock turtle necks were not fashionable in 1998.


  1. You forgot about how sports can be divisive as well. Like when you've rigged up an antenna to your junky old tv want to watch the Yankees play the Red Sox in the ALCS and then your roommate invites a bunch of noisy people up to the room where you're trying to watch.

  2. Spence that game was game 4 of the 2004 ALCS. The yankees had won the previous 3 games and were set to win the 4th game completing a devestating sweep of the hated Boston Redsox. But then insensitive roommates stepped in. I wasn't able to see the end of the game. The greatest closer in baseball history let the Redsox tie and then win the game. The Redsox then became the only team to ever comeback from down 3-0 in the baseball playoffs. The blame all lies at the feet of roommates without consideration.