Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Why Sports?

Manuary stubbles ever onward.

I've always been impressed when people can rattle off theory about sports they don't actually play and quote statistics from seasons long ended. I'm impressed at the long-term memory space allocated to this and the enthusiasm and genuine passion of the authentic fan.
I have always thought it was a lot like the comic book fan being able to tell you Venom's origin story through Marvel Secret Wars and through the storyline in Ultimate Spiderman, contrasting each and analyzing the inherent core struggle in both tales.
For the record, in the first it is (Spider)Man vs Nature, the second (Spider)Man vs Himself.
But sports . . . The conflict is generally Team vs Team. The scores change, and the number of meters passing in a single match and stuff like that, but why is there such passion in discussing the every tiny detail and associated theory-craft?
Yesterday I was in a meeting in another building and we began to discuss certain processes. These particular processes, which I will not articulate due to the inevitable rant which will follow such articulation, are kind of a sore point with me.
These processes invariably lead me to wonder exactly how much I need to drink in the evening to make it all okay. I have not found the amount yet, but I'm still trying. There is no giving up in Manuary.
The person running the meeting sensed my agitation, though, and asked if I'd rather talk about something else.
One of the guys on my team offered the suggestion that whenever he doesn't want to talk about something in a meeting he leads the conversation over to either the South Carolina or Clemson game (depending on the audience) and then just dozes off for a little while during the ensuing discussion.
At first, I thought it could never work.
Who gets sidetracked by "Hey! Look over there!"?
However, even his mention that a sports reference might derail a meeting was followed by an animated analysis of the season for both teams and opinions on the coaching staff.
I still thought it was a fluke.
Then my eyes started to glaze over like they do during most sports discussions and I began to read the whiteboard notes left by the people who had the conference room before we did.
There was a flowchart for some project. There was also a list of deliverables and timelines and a responsibility matrix.
Next to that was the score of the South Carolina vs Clemson basketball game.
There was nothing after that note, the meeting having obviously broken down for play-by-play analysis.
If memorizing a few thousand numbers is all it would take to make the bad meetings go away, I can definitely see the point.
Sports, when applied correctly, can keep us from discussing things which make us annoyed or uncomfortable. For example, our feelings.

For the record, all my feelings for the month of Manuary have been replaced with "face itching".

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