Saturday, February 25, 2006

Snow, a Sister, and Sports Writers
By Zach

So I'm currently stuck in the Tufts University Library in Somerville, MA. I'm here to visit my sister for the weekend, which entails roughing it in the 'burbs and sleeping on the floor of her tiny dorm room. Oh well, such is brotherly love. It's currently snowing outside, which isn't so troublesome here but will be a major pain in the ass if it's also happening in New York.

Snow in New York City is one of God's primary revenges against urbanites: within 15 minutes of hitting the ground, it can be classified as toxic waste. Furthermore, because all of Manhattan is covered in tall buildings, the mounds of snow that occur when the streets are shoveled take weeks to disappear. Brown, freezing water shrouds most street corners, forcing the average pedestrian to work on their long-jumping skills.

That wasn't really supposed to be the main thrust of this post, just sort of where I went. You see, my sister is working for about 25 more minutes here at the library, and since I've already visited Deadspin about 17 times in the last hour, hoping for another post, I'm kind of out of options. All this time in front of a computer did allow me to sift through a few things I hadn't yet seen online, and talk about a few things I wanted to get off my chest.

In reading through some of the more recent posts on Fire Joe Morgan, I've been amused at the amount of idiotic venom directed at Bonds by "prominent" online writers (and I didn't even mention Satan). I have a couple of thoughts. The first is that attacking Bonds is the journalistic equivilent to taking candy from a baby: it's easy, no one wants to see it happen, and only Mr. Burns would do it. The second is that it really, really, really makes me want to see Bonds break Hank Aaron's record. I've long been sick of the "athlete as hero" myth. So what if Bonds is a selfish, arrogant jerk? So are many other people I've met. Just because he makes a lot of money, he's supposed to become a better person? People who expect perfection from public figures are fools.

But what this really speaks to is something that I greatly fear about myself. Presumably, at some point in their lives, people like Satan actually loved sports. It's why they followed it, and it's why they started writing about it. Yet somewhere along the line, sports became a job, and all the joy disappeared.

Earlier this week, I finished reading an advance copy of Will Blythe's new book: To Hate Like This is to Be Happy Forever. It's a great book, which comes out next week (working at a radio station has a few perks, I guess), but I loved it at least in part because Blythe, like myself, grapples with the issue of whether a writer, a journalist, can both cover sports and remain a fan. He seperates his persona into two parts, "the journalist," who can bring himself to interview J.J. Redick and not taunt him about his poetry, and "the beast," who reddens at the mere sight of Mike Krzyzewski, even if it's just on TV.

I know full well what Blythe is talking about. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a passionate sports fan, and while I rarely weep when my teams lose anymore (a routine practice for me as a child), all anyone has to do to get me to cring is mention Dikembe Mutumbo, or Arthur Rhodes, or Rip Hamilton, or Kevin Curtis. I love sports, but most of all I love being a fan. While I want to write about sports, I never want to lose my fandom. That's the reason why I (and I'd suspect most of his fans) like Bill Simmons so much. His knowledge may be questionable, his columns may be laced with the same 80s references over and over again, but he's also the only writer on who never has his fan credentials questioned.

With college graduation a few months away and the great unknown that entails, I suppose I've been in a contemplative mood lately. Factor in spending time on a real college campus, snow, reading Tom Robbins, and a couple of hours in an unfamiliar library, and you get the above. Now, it's time to go sledding.


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