Thursday, April 13, 2006

But I Love Sports
By Blogger

He said, "One day, you'll learn that satisfaction often eludes even the most easily satisfied."

"I don't believe you," I said. I hadn't expected him to speak today. We sat on a bench in the park. We were watching the trees, grass, birds, and people.

He said, "Pay attention. Listen to what the professionals say. It is a common lament, cliche even, among artists and athletes alike that they never expected to become businessmen. Children play games and indulge in whimsy. Adults think of money."

"You could be right," I said. "Jay-Z says he won't rap anymore. Hell, he even rapped on his Black Album about how he'd dumbed down lyrics solely for profit. Barry Bonds recently said that he hasn't played a game since college, that it's been work ever since then."

"See what I mean? The best of the best grow disillusioned, even though they conquer and redefine the field they supposedly love. Did Dave Chapelle go insane? Or did he simply decide not to do the shuffle any more and quit rather than suffer in silence?"

I looked at the grass. Children were racing on the monkey bars. I could hear them shrieking.

He said, "The worst part, though, is that it will happen to you, too."

"I don't believe you."

"You'll see. It will happen slowly at first. Like a mild flu, you will feel queasiness in your gut when you go to work..."

"But I love sports," I interrupted. "I work in sports radio! What could be better for a sports junkie?"

"What could be worse?" he said. "Right now, you're still infatuated with the novelty of bringing sports to the masses, but pretty soon, you'll wonder why you aren't as knowledgeable as you used to be. You'll wonder why you aren't watching football on the weekends or basketball in the evenings. You'll know why, but you'll also be unable to admit it. You'll be tired of it all. You'll go to sleep each night without poring through blogs and online newspaper articles like you used to. You won't even write about sports, even though writing is probably the one thing you're most passionate about. Working in sports radio means you're immersed in sports, doesn't it? Why isn't that a paradise? Actually, you'll get home from doing hours upon hours of completely unrelated administrative duties that are essential to running a tight station, with highlight clips running through your head, mixed with a precious few scraps of sports discussion that were thrown your way in passing, and all you'll want to do is eat, sleep, and then talk about something other than sports. After all, nobody is so shallow that sports is everything they live for, and extensive exposure to ESPNews and syndicated programming will dull your desire to witness feats of athletic prowess and argue the merits of David Wright versus Jhonny Peralta."

I coughed.

He added, "Once you get paid, you're playing by different rules. It's a job, my friend. Sports as job will break you. The flu will overtake your body, and you'll wish you had gone into carpet sales way back when. Instead of relishing Rip Hamilton's every off screen slash and Dwight Howard's every weak side shot block, you'll listen for the cue to break, drop the tag, pot down the network, and fire your spots. You'll wake up at four-thirty Saturday morning, swallow the sickness before you shower, get to work three minutes before six--because you're considerate and punctual like that--and listen to grey noise for eight hours."

I said, "You don't know what the hell you're talking about."

He said, "I could just be talking out of my ass."

"I think you are," I said. "So, I don't believe you. I choose to believe that whatever I do, I'll do it well. I'll find joy and meaning. Just because I haven't found it yet, and you never found it, doesn't mean it isn't there. You can't convince me that working in sports only leads to bleakness and nihilism. Call it blind optimism of ignorant youth, but I'm sticking to it."

"So dramatic," he said.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a reason I work in finance and investments. It's something I'm good at, but I don't enjoy it. My hobbies, pleasurable distractions, and passions will never become mundane and I'll still be able to revel in them when i'm old and retired.

1:35 PM  
Blogger The Armchair Quarterback said...

I firmly believe you can love some jobs. I don't happen to have on of those jobs but that's beside the point. If I could work in sports I would be in heaven.

3:39 PM  

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