Thursday, May 17, 2012

Why you should watch sports, Part 1

Over the next few posts, I hope to convince you to give a chance to following a sport, or team, or player.  I firmly believe that, given the huge variety of sports and the tremendous volume of coverage of even the most minor sports, there is something out there to appeal to absolutely anyone, whether it's the NFL or women's curling.  If I manage to convince you and you'd like to discuss which is the right focus for you, let me know.  I will also try to give a few suggestions in the posts.

Tonight, I'm watching Dancing with the Stars with my lovely wife and my equally lovely mother-in-law.  One of the contestants is Donald Driver, a wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers.  Like several previous football player contestants in past seasons, Driver is doing very well in the competition, in performance as well as audience votes.

It's not surprising that he is doing well, given the tremendous overlap in abilities needed for dancing and playing wide receiver.  Driver is just as capable of producing aesthetically pleasing performances on the football field as he is on the dance floor.  In the first second of a play, he uses his quickness and strength to get past the defender.  Then he runs a very precise route, taking a precise number of steps to run to a specific point on the field with the exact timing the quarterback expects.  He then might have to slide along the ground or leap three feet into the air to catch the ball.  Moments of balletic beauty happen all the time in other sports as well, like a basketball player weaving his way through the opposing team or a sprinter pushing the limits of human ability.

The competitive nature of sports lends an unpredictability and spontaneity to the proceedings that can't be matched in dance.  Teammates working together can demonstrate the same level of improvisation and skill found in jazz clubs.

With all the locker rooms, sweat and fat guys drinking beer traditionally associated with sports, it's easy to miss the beauty inherent in competition among world-class athletes.  Thanks to technology bringing sports into the living room, these coarser elements of sport are minimized, making it much easier for the good parts to shine through.

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