Don’t Pretend It Isn’t a Sport
AP English Language and Composition
6 March 2020
Don’t Pretend It Isn’t a Sport
Perhaps there's a bit of sadness in this. Here I am, sitting in the dark with no power, speaking to myself with these words, hopelessly trying to convince myself that I have any knowledge as to the views on physical competitions held by those around the world. I have to admit, I don't. It makes me feel a little stupid, honestly. The one thing I do know, however, is that I have quite a few judgements on the sport and art of spin.
There's a beauty to it, in that you can spin anything in any manner. It takes skill and passion for the craft. The main goal is to win, and you do that by linking what doesn't need to be linked. One may call that "professional lying", but it can be a sport if you make it one. There's the teamwork and practice—the common goals to be fought for, and the glory to be had. Most importantly, there's the weakness of it. The play. I mean, what is a sport really? It's faux war. It's playing. It's manufactured combat. Regardless of whether or not that combat is physical, it doesn't matter, so long as it's fun.
That's the greatness that comes from spin. By testing the boundaries of truth, you can define the undefined. Even the definition of sport itself becomes clearer when you try to argue that the very argument you don't believe in is a sport. It's that suspension of disbelief, only for a moment, that dictates the energy and excitement in sports. You can see stadiums full of people pumping with adrenaline, watching a staged war as if it were real, and the world has largely accepted this. Just as we have accepted any other forms of entertainment, we have accepted that our fantasies brought to life are deserving of our emotions and investments despite being mere approximations of the reality we seek. That's why we have athletes and fans—people desperate to live different lives.
So what's so wrong with selling other lies, so long as they're pleasant ones? Everyone understands the foundation of politics is lying. There's nothing deserving of war or factions and yet states continue to battle, and parties continue to organize, with the unspoken understanding that there is a game being played. While this leads to a 'total war' of sorts, are the cheering crowds not every bit as important as the athletes in the field? Is there not a fantasy of power at play, and a fantasy of belonging? Argue all you want, but drone striking school buses in Yemen is every bit as exciting and manufactured as getting a "touchdown" in "gridiron football."
Chess is the nonviolent version of politics and spin, abstracted down so far that it can be played on a tabletop. Sure, we still have a hierarchy on the board, but the kings and queens don't have names or countries or weapons. The excitement is just as real, along with the fantasies and investments. Chess became a whole Cold War point of contention—I mean Christ, it's just a really old board game! Yes, a game. A game of contempt: a sport.
Want me to give another kick in the balls? Video games can be sports too. Yep, I said it. Some real freaks get on Twitch to watch white guys with no prospects play Counter Strike against each other for a bit, and not only that, they throw money at them. Legends are told about the rise and fall of the greats, as personality is just as important as talent. The players are invested for the fantasy of the game, and the fans are invested for the fantasy of the stardom.
This means that anything can be a sport, and the world knows this until it's trying to be convinced. Only then does sport fade into some evasive and vague void where it is subject to the whims of traditional classifications. But, my God, that isn't how things work, and if you disagree then quite frankly you're missing the point of more than just this essay. If you don't see what sports truly are, then you're missing a greater understanding of statehood, sovereignty, cooperation, charisma, power, play, and fantasy. Wisen up, man. Spin things a little, and see what you really believe.