Sports Talk.

Posted: May 8, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

By Peter Stern, Philosophy Faculty.

Lots and lots of print spilled, discussions held, and hearts broken over the Bulls almost complete demise in the playoffs.  A compelling question must arise at this point which is:  Why?  Why did the Bulls collapse?  Now that I’m teaching a sports class I can profess with greater confidence, verging but not quite reaching Cartesian Certitude, that the act of raising this question goes a long way towards explaining why sports will forever reign as the country’s number one pastime.

I’m not referring to the specific question about the Bull’s sudden collapse; instead I’m reminded that sports serves as a fabulous catalyst for generating complex and interesting issues which in turn lead to almost endless discussions about success and failure, nature and nurture, individual vs. group performance, fate and free will, for starters.  I’m also struck how these discussions point to a deep usually unarticulated yearning, at least among sport interlocutors, for truth, justice, beauty, and immortal fame.

And, lest this all sounds too academic, pompous,  and/or  grandiose, let me add that sports and sporting events also gives (gave) rise to that most wonderful of all sports creations, yes, I’m thinking of trash talking.  Before this extraordinary term became popular, I thought I was intelligently engaged in friendly discussions about minor issues whose outcomes mattered little to me or anyone else.  Again, that was in the pre trashing talking era or PTE, for short.

I now realize, however, much to my dismay, that a good deal of my discussions involved talking trash.  Not all of it, true, but a goodly amount nonetheless.  So I discovered, I think, that many of these conversations simply continued, by other means, the competition my discussants and I were busy debating.   And this so called discovery of mine offers still more evidence for why sports discussions should remain for a long time to come a favorite national past time for both athletes and non athletes alike.

  1. PG says:

    After Derrick Rose’s injury, once my depression subsided, I was thinking about how Rose’s injury is – in a weird, morbid way – an example of what makes sports so fantastic. The unexpectedness and tragedy of the injury is something that would be almost impossible to replicate in sports-fiction, because of the whole “truth is stranger than fiction” effect. If that were a movie, Rose’s injury would seem ridiculous and entirely unbelievable, and it would likely generate no genuine emotion from the viewer.

    In real life, the injury is not only believable, but the ripple effects of that single moment impacts the “stories” of the Chicago fans, the Bulls season, Derrick Rose’s career, the rest of the NBA playoffs, the eventual NBA Champion who won’t have to go through the Bulls, the fans of the team who wins. Sports make for great theater, where we can expect the unexpected, the unbelievable can be believed, and the surest conclusions are consistently thwarted.

    And trash talking is one of the greatest psychological characteristics of sports.

  2. Trish says:

    I hereby call for a longitudinal study on Trash Tallking, past and present, by one Dr. P. Stern!

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