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an ma thesis for somebody

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Dammit! Not only am I suffering from the taped-tv contingency-failure issue described in my previous post, but even worse: there are so many ways that I am notified about just about everything that happens in the world, that it is almost impossible to keep myself in the dark about the Yankees score until I have time to watch my recorded telecast.

A few days ago, it was my iGoogle homepage with its NYT feed. This morning, things went to hell even faster. Rolled over to check my iPhone’s inboxes, and there was the NYT alert. I’m not sure it’s even worth trying to do what I am trying to do.

With distance increases also the banalizing reach of the twittering infrosources, systematically worming through the world and its information to turn any remaining shreds of romance to into a mere final score.

Written by adswithoutproducts

October 12, 2009 at 7:35 am

Posted in sports, Television

13 Responses

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  1. But even if you know the final score, you still get to see grown men hug each other. Isn’t that why anyone watches sport? Certainly my only reason.

    infinite thought

    October 12, 2009 at 10:01 am

    • We try not to think about that part, IT. We are long trained not to think about it, right from the start, even as we post pictures of it on our blogs.

      Perhaps I should write a post about homosociality and sport, huh? I have some great stories actually, stories that are dying to be told.


      October 12, 2009 at 11:17 am

  2. I really think you should. It’s always struck me in some quiet way that there is something genuinely utopian about those moments: here are other ways of being together, even among those that are supposed to be tough and manly and competitive. But we are trained not to see them, that’s true…even that super-tacky 80s/90s Athena poster of the man holding the baby has something a little subversive about it. You could even see this subterranean male tenderness in Judd Apatow films which, as problematic as they are, attempt to say something about the softness of male friendship in a sea of porn, economic expectation and violence.

    infinite thought

    October 12, 2009 at 12:41 pm

  3. I agree. However romantic and ‘literary’ it is, there ineffably beautiful about the way men behave on a sports field. I can only speak for my preferred sports – notably Rugby League – but the emotion that is expressed, not only when tries are scored, but at the loss of, say, a grand final, is moving in a way that nothing else I see on television is . The way a man, a man who in so many fundamental ways ridiculous, will, after scoring a try, scream at nothing/the-tv-camera for a brief moment before he is swamped in bum-slaps, unsafe-looking round-the-chin jumping-hugs, high fives etc is a moment of community, or, put more properly, solidarity, that normal TV will never depict.

    And, conversely, it is odd to see tears on men when they lose a grand final. Odd because, unlike the tears of reality tv contestants and the like, they feel to the viewer…..real. And that’s, of course, the problem. Because a front rower surrounded by cameras is not crying in the way that we would define it, it is always already mediated, but doesn’t this heighten the ‘reality’? Even if he is acting devastated because that is what one does when one loses a grand final, isn’t it more productive to see it as some sort of absolute: this is what happens when the presentation you’ve worked on for the whole year is rejected by the investors. His tears are our tears (or at least mine), and is the truth of the solidarity we’ve previously seen – it is the solidarity of those who will murder for each other until they change jobs.


    October 12, 2009 at 1:44 pm

  4. I’d like to agree with you IT, but as a longtime player and watcher of football, I don’t think there’s any real utopia lurking in the celebrations.

    In fact the celebrations fit much more obviously into the notions of nature, red in tooth and claw, Schopenhauer, etc that you’ve been writing about than utopia.

    A goal is a zero-sum event, good for you, bad for the opposition, or vice versa if you concede it.

    I’ve played in games, and watched quite a few, where conceding a goal feels like a punch in the stomach. Or more precisely like an absence, as if you no longer have a stomach to be punched. Presumably the sensation that gave rise to the British usage of word ‘gutted’.

    When a goal is scored the scorer attracts his team as if by gravity or magnetism, they congregate happily then return to their half.

    Watch the team that’s conceded: invariably they are atomized, as if repelled from each other, and will walk back in straight lines for the restart.

    Rather than utopia, a sports celebration is at best another document of civilization… War minus the shooting Orwell called it. It’s no more utopian than any tribal dance of victory. My group wins!

    To stick with football at least, there *is* a trace of utopia to be gleaned I think when the game is played at its best, and a kind of co-operative group mind manifests itself. The tactical grammar of the modern game was hugely influenced by the factory teams of communist Russia and eastern Europe. It contrasts interestingly in that sense with the American variant in which like a CEO,the (generally white, often MC) quarterback organizes the play and commands the rest of his (generally black, WC) team, many of whom are like cannon-fodder/drones, there to protect the quarterback. I’m generalizing now though…

    Zone Styx Travelcard

    October 12, 2009 at 2:48 pm

  5. Sigh! I no doubt do read too much into those brief moments of apparent male softness…ah well, must look elsewhere…

    infinite thought

    October 12, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    • ‘attempt to say something about the softness of male friendship in a sea of porn, economic expectation and violence.’

      No need to say anything about it, the soft part has to happen from time to time, but it’s the less important part; if you let it be predominant, you won’t get the other. It’s like somebody once said who met Andrea Dworkin: ‘She thought sex and violence were one, and that the violence is the good part’. Well, that wasn’t exactly right either, because both parts of that are good, but neither one of them is soft. The softness is the luxury part. It’s natural for women to expect men to be better than they are, and just as hard for men to understand that we like if fine that we’re NOT.

      ‘Sigh! I no doubt do read too much into those brief moments of apparent male softness…ah well, must look elsewhere…’

      The way I understand it, you know just where to look just like I do–I mean we are talking Refined Taste, that softens enough to overlook some political and ideological ambiguities. You just don’t know how to get the best position on it. I do. That’s the difference. I have NO doubt you will get this right, as you have proved yourself as having got a good start some years now.

      Everybody in my family has always played football, and it is the pinnacle of male tenderness. And you are the kind of woman we like.

      Trucks 'r' Us

      October 12, 2009 at 4:34 pm

  6. This thread, and especially your comment, Trucks, is reminding me of Ring Lardner’s baseball stories. And sepecially My Roomy – which is about the failure of the male fellowship of the bed, contra Ishmael and Queequeg.


    October 12, 2009 at 7:08 pm

  7. “A goal is a zero-sum event, good for you, bad for the opposition, or vice versa if you concede it.”

    Nah, that only applies if you really want to win. When Ireland were beaten by a single Italy goal in the quarter final of the world cup in 1990 we still jumped around and got drunk afterwards as if we’d won (we were going to lose sooner or later anyway). Or, perhaps, as Johnny Giles once said of a defeat (probably something like 5-1) by West Germany, ‘Well, we won the first half.’ No need for tears whatever the outcome — unconditional hugging for everyone.


    October 12, 2009 at 9:44 pm

  8. Go Phils!


    October 13, 2009 at 3:20 am

  9. It might be nice to reflect for a minute on the geography of all this. By which I mean: I know what IT means, because the sports dudes hugging reminds me of the way men in other places have all kinds of sweet physical entanglement (including hugging), without it being a big deal. If you’ve ever walked down a street in southern Mexico, you know what I mean: schoolboys arm in arm, men embracing. I’m not saying that there’s no normative control there or anywhere, but male tenderness is compelled to be a lot more subterranean in the industrial core.


    October 13, 2009 at 3:55 am

  10. I remember being amazed when, in Indonesia, I saw men lounging in each others arms and sharing cigarettes like lovers. I remember, against my protests, our high school feminist collective producing posters with incomprenhensible b&w pictures of Rugby players tackling each other with the dubious and admonitory tagline: ‘Men manufacture ways to touch each other’. The problem, of course, was its manifest truth, and surely it is unproblematic that different patriarchal societies regulate this in different ways.


    October 13, 2009 at 5:27 am

  11. I’ve long been working to try and understand the ‘spoiler alert’ mentality. In films & books I don’t care about it much. Whether I know the plot line or the final climactic moment ahead of time or not, generally all of our stories fall into the same shapes and dramatic steps. I’m much more interested in how we got there, than the dynamics of Freytag, etc. Yet sports more than anything seems to lose all value once the out come is known. I’ve tried the DVR thing many times (though I watch NBA > MLB), and the tension is never there in the same way as it is in real time. Often I already know the outcome and find myself trying to latch onto ways the team is working or not working on the court.

    Can we not celebrate the outcome without the hours of investment first? or, does the celebration just not seem as great without the lost time?

    In another way this seems like a form over content issue. Score over play by play. Stats over players. Yet none of these are ever separable from the other…


    October 14, 2009 at 6:07 pm

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