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Holy cow, why do you write about sports so often?

April 9, 2012

In discussing this blog with readers, in many cases, they make the observation that there’s a lot of sport-related content. It’s not about sports, typically, but it uses sports as a jumping-off point for the point of the day. For instance, in the writing exercise about excitement, I used the 1975 World Series, and in the previous post about excitement, I show Brooks Robinson in the 1966 World Series.

Considering that many of this blog’s readers aren’t necessarily sports fans, and wouldn’t know Brooks Robinson from Garth Brooks, why the emphasis on sports?

  • Even if you don’t play it, and don’t follow, sports is a common touch stone for most people. You don’t have to know who Carlton Fisk is to understand the tension in important, tightly fought sports contents, from Little League to World Championships. It helps create a common baseline for understanding for most–but not all-readers. That’s my job as the writer of this blog.
  • I know sports. It could be that opera or ballet offers as much tension and excitement as sports. But I don’t know that. I don’t watch opera, ballet, or even most musicals. (I once disappointed my wife by referring to Damn Yankees as stupid because if I were pitching and guys started dancing around like that and singing, I’d bean them. Marriage is something you get better at over time.) But I’ve seen Carlton Fisk’s home run and reaction dozens of time. I remember Vin Scully’s call of the last strike of the 1986 World Series (a simple “Got him!” followed by a couple minutes of letting the pictures tell the story) with out looking it up.
  • Sports offers pre-packaged conflict. Team A (or participant A) against Team B (or participant B). Only one can win. They are evenly matched and perform well in trying to attain victory. Just add words and the story can tell itself. Because a lot of the work is done for you, that can make for lazy writing, or it can free the writer to create art that endures forever.

Culture that’s increasingly fragmented and can select what it consumes. Common touch points, such as sports experiences, family experiences, and other similar themes, become more valuable for reaching across the fragmentation. That’s why common plot devices–the ticking time bomb comes to mind–freshly presented will become more important. Whatever your background and tastes, you can understand them and feel their emotion.

One Comment
  1. April 10, 2012 8:39 am

    Chris, while sports is definitely not my thing, I’m always “touching base” with someone, or “batting a thousand” if I have a few successes, or “striking out” if I fail. When I lived in St. Louis years ago, three big name sports stars were in my Sunday school class: “Vinegar Bend Mizell” and Hal Smith, whom I understood were pitchers for the “Cards,” and Cliff Hagan, a star of the St. Louis professional basketball team. When I first met them, I went home and told my husband, who never went to church. He went with me the very next Sunday to meet them.

    Earlier, when my then-future husband was stationed at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, he played on the “Hickam Flyers” baseball team. I got to meet his teammates, one of whom was Don Larsen, who went on to pitch the only perfect World Series Game in history.

    But – if someone throws a ball at me, I still duck!

    Joyce Bowden

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