The World Cup Is A Celebration Not An Adolescent Mosh Pit

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After a moribund soccer-less June 29th, the party resumes today.  Sixteen teams and 2 more weeks of glorious celebration remain before the greatest world fiesta comes to end and FIFA crowns a new soccer monarch. Thus far the storylines on the field have lived up to expectation. The usual suspects, save for Germany, managed to move onto the round of 16.  God himself has been seen peering out from his sky box, smoking a cigar, giving us all several laughs with his godlike antics; a World Cup without Maradona is like Mezcal without orange slices. Japanese grandstanders are outclassing all others by picking up after themselves and leaving their grandstand neat and tidy after each game. Colombian grandstanders are bringing it hard and might be giving the Mexican fans a run for their money as far as visibility and numbers in the grandstand.  The very wealthy Mexican Federation was fined a measly $10,000 for their grandstand’s homophobic chant, but you can still hear a lukewarm version of it every time the goalie kicks the ball off. The idiotic VAR (Video Assisted Referee) seems to be here to stay, but none of us are clear as to when it does or does not come into play. In what may be the stupidest and most embarrassing celebration caught on camera 2 imbecile talking heads for Telemundo on one of those pathetic morning shows made a slanted eye gesture after South Korea’s win over Germany that gave Mexico the second round berth. Grandstand has officially excommunicated those 2 fools not only because of the gesture, but because they weren’t even Mexican and they were wearing the green jersey acting like damn fools!

But alas fools are everywhere. In Tijuana Mexico some fellow Green Team grandstanders having a difficult time coming down from the euphoria of their win over Germany took their celebration to a state of unchecked belligerence and burned a German flag in the name of who the fuck knows what. Here’s the thing my grandstanders you have to have a comedown routine after a win of that nature. Go to your local pub and tell stories, go home watch the game again and relive it all over so that you can hear the match commentary you missed because you were too busy being in a tantric state, scour the internet for literature about the subplot and subtext of the game, read on ahead to the next chapter, call your mother, etc.

If you do feel the need to go hang out with a mob do so, but keep it clean and only for a little while. Get out to the meeting point and give a few hugs, drink a beer with the crowd, yell some inane shit into the sky and then go home! Whatever you do don’t stand around with a mob for too long. Sooner than later you’re bound to get bored and cross your personal threshold of violence and risk engaging in some pretty stupid shit you did not intend to do when you woke up that morning. If you’ve ever attended a political rally you know what we’re talking about here. After the third or forth speaker there’s nothing doing, it all starts to all sound the same and that’s when you get the urge to do something stupid in the name of spectacle. So do yourself, your country, and the World Cup a favor keep your nationalistic grandstanding clean. Remember the World Cup is a celebration not a fucking adolescent mosh pit.

 

May is the Thursday of Months 

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We have arrived at the eve of the most glorious season of the grandstanding year. From the Kentucky Derby to the World Series and every splendid spectacle in between; happy times are here again. This season is a particularly special one because this summer dear grandstanders, is a World Cup summer. What may possibly be the grandest spectating spectacle of them all, the greatest of human creations, the every four years futbol fiesta is just days away and so too is a new season of Grandstand.

We will start this season with a conversation set against the back drop of the FIFA World Cup. Despite the fact that this grandest of the grandest spectacles may be a passé nationalistic relic of a 20th century past and that it has been commercialized beyond redemption it still has a very poignant story to tell about the state of grandstanding. The World Cup unleashes the dogmas of nationalistic identity and the temptation to want to belong to something bigger than ourselves. On a global scale no other spectacle has the power to rejoin us to the internal human drama of culture and identity.

Season 4

The month of May not only kicks off a summer of grandstanding, but it also is the soft beginning of the fourth season of Grandstand. We’ve decided to change a few things since you last heard from us. The start date for this and all future seasons will now kickoff in the late part of May/early June instead of fall as has previously been the case. We’ve been diligently at work connecting the dots between seemingly disparate story-lines and ideas, forming a coherent unified impression from visions gathered from the grandstand and in the process decided to change the approach of our podcast conversations. Our season’s narrative will be guided by the commentary of editorial pieces published on the Grandstand website all revolving around a central theme as seasons past. There will still be sidebar episodes and roundtable discussions with the ushers, but our goal is to get down to business and finally resolve this issue of telling the story of spectating spectacle in the manner we had originally intended.     

 Slam-Dunk

Initially this season was going to be about building a narrative around ideas related to immigration and migration. In response to the present we were hoping to make a hard-nosed remark about the beauty and necessity of the movement and migration of people and ideas with the spectating spectacle as the framework for illustrating that point. With every brainstorming session our conversations evolved past trying to do a mere Wikipedia retelling of the change affected by the migration and interaction of people and game-play philosophies of the sporting borderlands. Our aim was to not only focus on the more obvious instances of social change occurring within the sporting world, but to also discuss the more nuanced aspects of change not necessarily related to social-political movements, but nevertheless hailing from the social, geographical and political.

Through the evolution of tactical schematics, change in uniform designs, in-groups and out-groups, millennial ballplayers and their kowtowing managers, and soccer in the Paris suburbs we wanted to explore how migration and encounter helped to bring forth change in the spectating spectacle.  

Our interest in migration and immigration as the topic of conversation came from the not told often enough saga of the racial tension produced by the advent of the slam-dunk as a new scoring strategy in basketball. At a glance the story of the simultaneous rejection and embrace of the slam-dunk by traditionalists and non-traditionalists alike is the story of a basketball grandstand divided over a scoring tactic. However, anyone familiar with this story and the history of race in America instantly recognizes that this was more than a mere rejection of a new style of scoring. UCLA’s Lew Alcinder (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) made such great use of the slam-dunk that it was eventually banned by NCAA from 1967 to 1976 in what became known colloquially as the Lew Alcinder rule. The dunk came to be perceived as a menace and threat to a more sober and traditional tactical style of play in basketball not only because it was new and different, but because it instantly became a symbol of black power. To date no single gesture in sports has had such a profound effect on the makeup of a game as has the slam dunk and we wanted to explore motifs related to that story but…

Eventually We Arrived at the Issue of Protest

Very few things cause as much collective indignation and polemics in the grandstand as the introduction of a new tactical philosophy or change to the rules of play or engagement. The old guard’s immediate rebuff of a new gameplay approach versus the new guard’s embrace of change has always been as much a spectacle as the action on the field of play. With that said there is no hiding the fact that Grandstand has been very vocal about the mistrust we have of the incessantly rapid rate of change in the sport spectating experience. Numerous times we have hypothesized about nightmare scenarios that could be brought forth by the gentrifying villains of our debased imagination. We have attempted in vain to defrock the priests of the millennial apocalypse with their statistics and fragmented fandom. We have said that we are yet to be convinced that it is necessary that technology replace humans as the arbiters of impartiality on the field. We have decried the changes produced to the spectating experience by mass commercialization and the made for television spectacle and so on and so forth.  And so what started as an attempt to celebrate and honor migration and movement through the lens of sport slowly morphed into talk of looking for grandstander examples of protest and resistance against the cookie cutter corporatism and the incessant numerology of present day spectating.  We talked a great deal about the potency of the encounters that occur at the borders where the spectating spectacle past encounters the spectating future and of the responsibilities we grandstanders have to uphold certain traditions and embrace new ones no matter how much we disagree with them. So we asked.

Who in the grandstand gets to decide what stays and what goes?

What does grandstanding look like when it’s practiced far away from the overly mediated corporate place it’s at now?

When, if ever, is it prudent to walk away from the mainstream spectacle?   

Where in spectacle can we see the shaping of narratives that parallel the political secessionist movements of states within states and secessionist movements of grandstanders looking for an out from the densely corporate brand of grandstanding currently being shoved down our spectating gullets?     

 But Still at Least for One More Season

And because of May, and of the possibility of another Horse Racing Triple Crown, Lebron vs Curry IV, Iniesta's swan song and the sight of human souls about to get disheveled by a month of nation versus nation football we will stick around to see what happens.

Grandstand may be no weather channel, but this season’s prognostications look to be on point. Join us, come help us forge a manifesto that will speak in resistance against those who would believe that we grandstanders in the colosseums are all but mere props for the television audience.

Resume the celebration, open the gates of the cathedral and let our grandstanders in!

 

 

The First Saturday In May

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Alas the great day has finally arrived, rejoice my dear grandstanders for it is the opening day of the grandest time of year. May the Gods smile upon us and sanctify this first Saturday in May so that it be a magnificent season of grandstanding. May this day of commemoration and renewal bring forth hope and blessings for another summer full of devotional distractions to protect us from the impending doom of rising waters and of another hacked into nation state’s election. May we saunter trancelike and drunkenly forward toward the light of another grandiose summer of spectacle far away from the darkness of blundered taped red presidential ties. Let this grand season of spectacle cast upon us a temporal lucidity so that we may have a respite from the vulgar fake news paranoia of the squawk box of atomic cataclysm.  May this be a season of blind pony derby winners, no-hitters, triple crowns, 8 round knockouts, fussing ballers with 500 dollar kicks, a cup for the green team, a cup for the Italian team, one final tiki-taka strut, an NBA ring for the gangly former Oklahoma scorer, bicycle races, car races, foot races, more cheaters, more gossip, more losses, more wins, more controversy, more theatre, more spectacle, more, more, more. In Maradona’s name we beg you, amen now pass the kykeon!

Olympics: Dreams of an Afterlife

 gimnasio olimpico juan de la barrera

gimnasio olimpico juan de la barrera

It’s a place built for a singular moment in time, for elite international competition. Inaugurated on September 13, 1968 by Mexican president Gustavo Diaz Ordaz the Alberca Olimpica Francisco Marquez and Gimnasio Olimpico Juan de la Barrera were designed by architects Manuel Rossen Morrison, Antonio Recamier Montes and Edmundo Bringas to house the swimming, water polo, diving, modern pentathlon, gymnastics and volley ball events. Seen from a distance on the Division del Norte thoroughfare the almost 50 year old façade reveals its age in a straightforward and honest tone. It cannot pretend to be anything more than the sum of the historical context clues of its architecture. However, once inside and walking amongst the working actors of this village of sport, the eye is instantly drawn to a different kind of architecture, to abstract glimpses of a yet to be defined Mexican sporting future. Soccer, basketball, swimming, tennis, joggers, women athletes, child athletes, grown men in jerseys with the last names of millionaire soccer child stars on their backs, old people, vendors, loiterers and speculating spectators.  

 athletes' entrance

athletes' entrance

The 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City were the first to be held in Latin America. For many cities hosting the Olympics is an arrival of sorts, an annunciation of having crossed the Rubicon that divides the haves and have nots of 20th century capitalistic kitsch. A great deal has changed in Mexico since the late 60’s when it seemed, it appeared, to be so close to the first world that its citizens could almost caress it.  

 alberca olimpica francisco marquez

alberca olimpica francisco marquez

 68 olympics, 75 panamericanos, 1990 central american & caribbean games

68 olympics, 75 panamericanos, 1990 central american & caribbean games

Every four years prior to the start of the games there’s no shortage of ambitious bickering between believers and nonbelievers. The spectating spectators ruminate on the finer virtues of sport as a tool for social edification. The nonbelievers remind us of the economic and social costs brought about by the intrusions of the edifices that house the barbaric vulgarity of senseless corporate sponsored competition.  

 peering into the gimnasio

peering into the gimnasio

 continental rings

continental rings

Permanent structures for impermanent events always seem to decay in a shame inducing manner. It has become fashionable to be reminded of that every four years right before the torch is lit. Hosting the Olympics leaves cities wrought with indignation “how could we have allowed this?” But, as soon as the last sport spectating spectator tourist has gone from one Olympic town, the next sport faring megalopolis waits for them with open arms at the way station of quadrennial promise, of cosmopolitan arrival, hoping to feel that expendable caress. 

 dusk in the village of sport

dusk in the village of sport

 never ending futbol 

never ending futbol 

 and basketball too

and basketball too

In the evening when all is alive and salient you get the sense that some higher order or thought was put into this, almost as if the architects were thinking not of arriviste logic, but rather were transfixed by the possibilities of the future. In this light the 48 year old structure looks less like a relic and more like a place built solely for the eternal citizens of Mexico City and not for a single use moment. A few washed out symbols remain, codes meant to appease the desires of the corporate marauders that beckon their wits and credentials with passport stamps from stolid boutique countries of museums and monarchies. At night everything in the City is alive, still occupied, the well-worn patina of the City’s edges gleams brighter than the despairing light of early morning, night time in Mexico is hopeful.    

 water Futbol

water Futbol

 the water is still warm

the water is still warm

 and still things to be bought and sold

and still things to be bought and sold

 conversation

conversation

In a land that doesn’t always see it necessarily so to wipe clean the slate of the old in order to begin anew, in a place not so used to throwing things away, ruins survive not out of overt preservation but because of something more convoluted and not easy to explain to those who see everything as beginning and as ending. The patrons of this theatre lean hard on the façades of past enlightenment, softening the ruins so that they become mere afterthoughts to the performers.     

 open 8:00-20:00

open 8:00-20:00

Millennials in the Grandstand: Fear Thee Not

In the spring of 2015, an Editorial in issue 22 of N+1 Magazine titled “Meh-lennials! On generational analysis” pointed out an often overlooked aspect of the millennial question and of the practice of cataloging generations. The business of categorizing whole swaths of people born during a certain epoch serves social critics and marketers the most. As the article wisely pointed out and explicated, it’s usually marketers and lifestyle vendors looking for pop culture to sell who see the need to name and identify the supposed characteristics of a specific generation. Unfortunately the narrative given to us by the venders is what most shapes our assumptions and feelings about generations younger and older and even our own, for better or for worse.

Grandstand Just Wants To Make Sure We Get These Digital Natives to Their Proper Place in the Grandstand So That the Old Time Grandstanders Don’t Have an Obstructed View of the Game   

As season 2 of Grandstand Podcast, “Non-Mainstream Sports,” begins its final push to the finish line a subtle underlying narrative has developed.  What will the American sports landscape look like in 20 years after the millennial generation assumes the helm of this industry not only as players but as content producers? Grandstand has too often maligned this fabulous group of individuals for no reason whatsoever. Really we hold no grudges or resentments towards them nor do we really believe in all of the garbage tossed at them by social critics bent on finding a scapegoat for our current existential economic angst and partisan stagnation. Millennials you could argue are Grandstand’s ultimate foil character, an easy prop and a self-serving way to amplify our old timey more traditional style of grandstanding contrasted against their supposed lack of interest for anything bearing traces of the staid pre-digital reality of traditional grandstanders.

I admit I am definitely out of touch when it comes to spectating at the pace of millennials. To talk sports with these new grandstanders is like trying to talk derivatives with a Wall Street suit. I don’t understand what the fuck they’re talking about or referencing.  Personally I feel like I’m on the endangered sports fan list, my kind of grandstanding slowly dying, being co-opted by never ending sports data analysis and ceaseless speculative arithmetical  one-upmanship. The performance seems to be moving away from the field and into the grandstand where jabbering mineworker statisticians try to outshine each other in a race to see who can find the most revealing stat that will change our perception of the gameplay.  Fortunately millennials are a mostly tolerant and compassionate clique and thankfully when they do take over completely I can count on them saving a spot in the grandstand for the few of us who just want sit and watch the damn game. But alas, interruptions for metrics analysis put together by these damn kids or not, the show will go and the spectating spectacle will be just fine if not better while in their custody regardless of what old time grandstanders believe.    

Which Brings Me to the Following

All of the non-mainstream sports profiled so far on this season of Grandstand are more or less thriving in their respective niches with some being more financially lucrative than others, but neither boxing nor horseracing is going to disappear from the American sports viewing landscape any time soon.  Without intending to we have been superimposing these games and their spectating markets onto the Big-4 (Baseball, Football, Basketball, and Hockey) to see how they would fare in a battle for market share supremacy. The informal thesis operating as the connecting thread of this season has been a conversation about pitting millennial sport spectating tastes against the spectating tastes of the old guard of sports Americana. It has been fun to romantically ponder and talk about a hypothetical future where Rugby takes over American Football and of Boxing returning to primetime national television if only for the sake of the thought experiment itself, but none of those games are true millennial games.  That is why a more plausible reality will probably see Lacrosse, Soccer and Ultimate Frisbee take over as popular pastimes and maybe even one day featuring on primetime television. The 20something generation, so as to not say millennials again, has been playing different games than their predecessors grew up playing.  20somethings have also been gradually pushing on the pillars that prop up the old structures of access (network/cable television) to the sport spectating spectacle. Those structures may never fully collapse, but the effects of a new generation of spectators and producers accessing and interacting with the Big-4 in a less traditional manner will produce outcomes that will change the way we grandstand in the future. The new grandstanders have the force and digital savvy to put enough of a strain on the old infrastructures to create a new narrative for not only a dethroning of one of the Big-4, most likely Baseball or Hockey, but for a diversification of spectating so wide that there will no longer be a Big-4 to contend with. The millennial future will most likely feature a Big-2 and a second tier of niche market contenders fighting it out for social media relevance i.e. millennial dollars.

Or…

Will a burgeoning game like Lacrosse or Major League Soccer take over as one of the Big-4? In America Lacrosse like Soccer is on the rise. The National Federation of High School Sports (NFHS) claims that Lacrosse is the fastest growing youth sport.  Non-profit groups like Brooklynn Lacrosse and Harlem Lacrosse and Leadership are bringing this ancient Iroquois game to the inner city and to communities both topographically and ideologically distant from the halls of the elite prep-school environment where Lacrosse has always prospered.  The MLS claims to have the greatest growth in market share of viewers in the highly coveted 18-34 age bracket and perhaps more importantly the MLS has the greatest share of Latino audience which also happens to be mostly millennial. According to a 2013 poll by ESPN, the MLS is as popular with 12-17 year olds as Major League Baseball. Which begs the question, are Nielsen ratings and growth projections enough of an indicator of what is to come next in American sports if the “total spectating experience” is no longer just about watching the game itself via the old mechanisms of the spectacle? Does sampling and trying to figure out who is playing and watching via the old instruments of spectating an accurate way to evaluate if the MLS will ever ascend to Big-4 supremacy?

 Who are these MLS'ers? Nielsen Numbers Graph Compiled by The Atalantic Feb 2014

Who are these MLS'ers? Nielsen Numbers Graph Compiled by The Atalantic Feb 2014

The future cultural capital of all sports is tied not only to the performers, but to the producers of the endless metanarratives borne out of statistical analysis and the producers of the entertainment that occurs between time outs more so than the games themselves.  In this scenario, although monumentally difficult, non-mainstream sports can and should be able to take some customers from the Big-4 by not only boosting their appeal via better conduits of access for digital natives, but by chipping away at the underlying barriers of access to games in communities where participation in a particular sport is still very closely tied to social class and identity. Or maybe it will be something far simpler than this conspiratorial analysis seems to insinuate.  Perhaps, as the Professor astutely pointed out during episode 15, maybe Lacrosse or Ultimate Frisbee is only one excellent EA Sports video game away from sport spectating glory.

In the USA Lacrosse and Soccer both have been planting the seeds of future multicultural crossover appeal and prosperous growth, but as of now both are still associated with white middle and upper class ascendency, save for Soccer in Latino communities.  Both of these sports will continue to thrive and one of them will fare better no doubt, but in the end will there ever be enough interest to galvanize enough support and participation for either of these games to enter into the pantheon of the American Sport Spectating Spectacle? Or as aforementioned will ubiquitous digital access to everything, even the most niche sports, turn us all into omnivorous grandstanders rummaging through an ever expanding field of richly produced sport spectating pastures brought to us by those damn digitally advanced Millennials?    

BTW WTF IDK LMK If You Do

 A very reliable source, millennial and former digital media employee of MLS when asked by Grandstand about who will win the market share war between MLS and MLB said the following, “The death of Baseball is overrated, MLB will win once they figure out Snapchat, Baseball is the best Snapchat sport.” What the fuck? Can I please get a savvy spectator of the new generation to explain that to me?  

I'll Have Another

It’s Derby day in the land and nothing says I’ll have another like the first Saturday in May. At last the darkness of the sporting winter has finally given way to the daylight of another glorious summer of sport. So yes I’ll have another, and another, and another at least until we get to the last out in October. Think of today not only as great day of racing, but as the beginning of the most magical stretch of the sport spectating season. So as the ponies leave the gate so begins day 1 in the advent calendar of the grandest time of the grandstanding cycle.  From the Sport of Kings in the month of May to the King of Sports in October and all the beauty in between, let the Great Hermes bless us with raucous joy and an auspicious season of athletic bacchanalia, senseless competitive debauchery, and tantric submission to competitors in corporate drag. Open the sport spectating gate and let my Grandstanders in!

Because Grandstand cares and because sport pairs better with a little lowered inhibition our house mixologist put together a list of ideal sport and spirit parings. These are mere suggestions and only one mixologist’s opinion.  

P.S.

Remember to always exercise caution when drinking and spectating as the spectacle can become morbidly perverse while under the influence of fermented organics. Never drink and drive and keep your grandstanding clean.

 

Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont Stakes: Blanton neat no matter your brand choice it has to be Bourbon or Rye

Canelo vs Khan or any boxing match thereof:  7 Leguas Reposado a sweet dose of blue agave for the sweetest of sciences

French Open: Moet et Chandon Dom Perignon as earthy and dry as the clay at Roland Garros

Champions League Final: Courvoisier (cognac) will only do for the most elegant of soccer finals

Tour of California: Sculpin IPA because nothing says California like an IPA

Indy 500: Budweiser tried and true elixir for the racing masses  

Liga MX Final: Tecate tried and true elixir for the Mexican futbol masses

NBA Finals: Kettle One Moscow Mule the sweet choice of the NBA’s millennial demographic

Copa America: Fernet and Soda chased by a Quilmes (beer) because Argentina always seems to win it or at least make it to the final, its only appropriate

UEFA Euro Cup: Estrella Damm (beer) from one the most culturally rich of European cities (Barcelona) for the most European of cultural events  

MLB All Star Game:Old Overholt Old Pal for the Good Old Boy Midsummer Classic

Wimbledon: Pimms Tea a refreshing summer drink that pairs well with an all-white get up

Tour de France: 2012 Chateau Latour Vintage as French and rugged as the tour itself 

Democratic Convention: Absolute Vodka Redbull in a blue glass

Republican Convention: Absolute Vodka Redbull in a red glass

Summer Olympics: Water some athletes in the Olympics are still kids respect the children

Olympic Soccer Final: Puerco Salvaje Porter (Mexicali Brew) because if Mexico wins the gold medal again only it’s finest beer would pair best with a repeat

NFL Season Opener: Budlight and a shot of Fireball the combination of choice for the gridiron masses

US Open: Uvaggio 2014 Rose Lodi, California a perfect cool down for the muggy dog days of summer

World Cup Qualifiers: Mezcal 400 conejos only for real aspirants

World Series: Bootleg Bacanora from the great state of Sonora, the world’s purest spirit for the purest and final spectacle of the season

HAPPY SPECTATING!

 

A Very Serious Proposition

"Any serious attempt to try to do something worthwhile is
ritualistic" - Derek Walcott

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A few weeks ago, on a very serious sports show, a very famous boxer had a very public spat with his very spoiled son, who is also a boxer, about the fact that his kid was not taking the very serious sport of boxing very seriously.  I found it hard to take the very famous boxer serious during his very serious indignation not only because I have a very hard time taking anything I see on television very seriously, but because what kind of seriousness could you expect from a child of privilege. However; it did get me thinking about the very serious difficulty it has been to get Grandstand’s very serious narrative to not appear so serious. I felt the boxer’s frustration, yelling at his kid through studio camera, saying stop being a lazy bum and get serious about your fear of being serious.  Apparently sometimes some of the things I write about in the Blog can be a bit boring or too severe for most and seemingly not that intelligent or coherent. The conversant and sharp witted Chicago critic, Skitch Bourbon, calls me a dilettante, says my narrative is amateurish and too pedantically toned for his liking. I don’t disagree, but my only regret is that I haven’t piled it on more, that I haven’t been more serious or better yet, as they say in Mexico, “Put more crema on my tacos.”  My ol’ papi once told me if you’re going to do something, be it sweeping the sidewalk or defrauding people by selling real-estate, make sure you become the best and a leader in your industry.  So if I’m to be a dilettante I might as well strive to be a serious dilettante; the dilettante’s dilettante.

 Grandstanders sick of my florid and overly romantic narrative

Help is coming by way of my dear friend, Grandstand confidant and advisor, Humberto Fox. Humberto is our first full time correspondent, a guide to help us contextualize what really is behind our need to keep track of the intimate details of celebrity and the back story to every step taken and not taken, the personal side of every athlete’s failure and triumph on and off the field. Grandstanders have the right to know the intimate details and outcomes of their favorite sports star paleo, gluten free, organic, locally sourced, non-global warming causing, reclaimed wood lifestyle. If all goes as planned Mr. Fox will be contributing to the blog on a biweekly basis in the soon to be debuted "Field Notes" section which will include the audio field notes, dispatches by visiting writers and photo journal essays from the Grandstand. Focusing less on the esoteric and more on gossip and the conspiratorial in the world of sport,  Mr. Fox’s column won’t be as thought provoking as Readers Digest or your friend’s social media feed, but will be sure to include essays longer than 140 characters and no selfies or pictures of food. Humberto believes that soft-core gossip and speculative conspiracy stories are the perfect vehicle for exploiting and emasculating the out of control alpha male archetype in sports, we need to put the Jungian Anima back into the games before the scale tips all the way to the right and falls off the spectating balance.

Before I go a quick note on winning…

Steph Curry of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors was ostracized by some of the NBA elder statesmen for what some perceive and pig-headedly insinuate is a certain kind of cheating. Without repeating this already very old story, in one sentence it goes like this. Steph Curry is a talented and new kind of basketball player that has upset the professional league’s matrix for winning and some old timers resent him and his team for it because he is killing it. Apparently winning needs to look a certain specific way and not interrupt the perceived established fairness context of the old timers in order for it to be legitimate; it need not be so vulgar.  Grandstand supports the vulgarity of endless winning especially winners that help to redefine old constructs and paradigms for accomplishing a goal. I was talking to Humberto Fox about this while watching a film about David “El Fandi,” the Spanish Matador who is also considered a winner in his spectacle. I mentioned this story in Episode 11 “The Ushers,” but the takeaway was very simple. Spectating winning is a subtle experience that requires a different level of fandom. Becoming wrapped up in a winning streak and in the narrative of total domination is very serious proposition that most of us don’t have the mental stamina to endure or even be a bystander to. For the athlete doing the winning and for the audience spectating the saturating gradations of victory it can look like overkill or monotonous, but I believe it goes deeper than just mere ennui. Winners intimidate us because they pose a threat to our accepted mediocrity; winning over and over again converts the actor and the audience into accomplices in the contemporary misconduct of breaking the hearts of losers, haters and fairness mongers. Next time you hear someone say that watching winners always win is boring; bonk them softly on the head.  As Fox said to me, “Imagine playing yourself as the same public character on a grand stage over and over under the watchful eyes of public and private audiences.” I pondered that for a while before I went to bed that evening. Before I closed my eyes, instead of saying 3 Hail Marys’ I meditated on the challenge of having to play myself as a singular character over and over again for an extended period of time. Could I play the character I perceive myself to be, over and over, for at least 5 mornings? For me the answer is no because I don’t think I have the energy to be myself that many days in a row, that’s too serious a proposition for me, hence why I prefer to watch others do it while I sit attentively spectating in the Grandstand.

Genesis

Saturday 3:00 p.m. Times Square

In a place called Jimmy’s Corner, hidden in the jungle of light lit dankness, the professor and I were summoned to the corner by the winged capped mercurial emissary of the Gods and he said, “I’ve come with a message from a yet to form divinity.” There surrounded by wallpapered parapets blanketed in images of brawlers and counter punchers, old worn photographs of icons lurking above us like baptismal godfathers in the sky, steady witnesses to a subtle moment of creation watching the emissary drink with us until we were in a religious stupor. And then he uttered silently…

In the Beginning the Gods created tournament and archetype, but the dramaturgy and metaphor could not be contained by the games alone, stories spilled out into the fringes of the borders of the playing field, hard to die anecdotes staining memory long past the final whistle, unnamed silence, narratives exiled to a inaudible purgatory for no one to talk about or contextualize, no conversation, formless and blank, no place for regret or resentment, no boasting no pride. The Gods decided to intervene and resolved to create a counter for the feats on the field and so the Gods said “Let there be a spectating spectacle,” and thus the Grandstand was created.

The Gods saw that the spectating spectacle was good and so decided to separate the spectating from the spectacle. The Gods called the spectacle theatre and the spectating they called fandom now there was theatre and spectating and then the first conversation- Episode I was created.    

And the Gods said “Let there be discussion about more than statistics and matchups.” So the Gods made the vault that separated the jib jabbering stenographers from slow talk pontificators.  The Gods called the vault “Sport” and then there were games- shit talking was born.

Then the gods said “Let the theatre produce vegetation: seed-bearing acts and trees with branches on which to hang anecdotes and nostalgia."The Gods saw that this was good and infused the dialogue with drink-they let the fruits and grains ferment for the sake of counter balancing and misspoken blasphemy.

And the Gods said “Let there be seasons, let there be signs to mark the sacred times, the days and years, and let those seasons give light onto the earth.” And it was so. The Gods made 2 great lights one to govern the joy of winning and another to illuminate the darkened beauty of losing. And the Gods saw that it was good and made more games- and more tragedy to discuss.

And the Gods said, “Let the Cathedrals teem with living figures, and let the Maradonas fly above the earth across the vault. So the Gods created lesser but still great creatures of ball and individual sports according their kind and their place of origin. And the Gods saw that this was good and blessed them with immortality and said be fruitful and increase in number and fill the Cathedrals with your great beauty and let the passions of competition proliferate- yet let the grandstand contextualize and have the final word.

Then the Gods said, “Let us make fandom in our own image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the players in the Cathedral and over the doubters in the sky, over the agnostics and intellectuals and over all the creatures that have never been witness to the faithful howling joy of the sight of scoring.”

So the Gods created the grandstanders in their own image, in the image of the Gods they were created, Believer, Atheist and Agnostic.

The Gods blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number, but beware of the marks that fill the spectacle, never submit to the work and shoots of the spectating spectacle.  

Then the Gods said “We give you the seed bearing gift of impassioned devotion, in all Sport, in every Cathedral, fruits to feast on wherever there is game and competition they will be yours for sustenance and respite from the arduous pain of life without fandom- and it was so.

The Gods saw all that they had made, and it was very good. And there was one final drink at Jimmy’s Corner and a gentlemen pact of promised devotion to the love of the Sport, conversation and theatre.

Then the Gods rested in the grandstand and there was morning- the grandstanders recovered from their hangover, the conversation was no longer formless or a void it was just getting started.

Sunday 3:00 a.m. Lower East Side

Leaving the poets to their psalms for Piñero, the Professor and I grabbed a cab on a perpendicular route to Santo Domingo, there at the wheel the winged capped emissary this time saying, “Ya tu sabes…”    

Are You For Real? A Companion Piece for the Kayfabe Spectacle

Real: actually existing or happening; not imaginary
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The word Fiction comes from the word fingere which means to shape or form. Before the advent of the Novel most texts were either religious or works of non-fiction. The Bible and other ancient epics were understood to be real accounts of actual events despite the fact that they were mythological metaphors for assimilating reality. In the 1500’s Montaigne dug up the French word essai meaning an attempt, a test, a trial and gave a name to an early form of writing that would have a profound effect on what would eventually become the popular novel.  The industrial revolution via the railroad brought a massive wave of workers to Europe’s great cities. The intermingling of cultures and people from places that used to be disconnected, places that were once isolated by vastness and differing topographies started to contract and the space between cultures and ideas became ever so smaller. This new smaller world with its new efficiencies in mass production contrasted sharply with the old agrarian reality of remoteness, of regional accents and specific niches. Ideas were no longer isolated to one geographical location. The intermingling of once segregated philosophies gave rise to one of the most concentrated epochs of creation in the era of modernity with the Novel as one of the major players. Copy makers raked in big profits from the selling of manuscripts which in turn gave economic autonomy to the creators of those manuscripts and thus hailing in the age of copy right and of the Novel.

The Novel is a populist depiction of reality. When it first appeared it was viewed as a low brow gossiping mechanism that appealed mainly to the middle and upper classes. It differed from other forms of older and prior fiction in that its rules of composition and artistry were malleable. The Novel allowed for a completely new kind of narrative, a made up account of the trivial and of the neurosis of our everyday interactions. The Novel’s appeal was its artistic portrayal of the cotidienne, starring the every day mundane reality of life, the lies, the secrets and their consequences. The fiction of the Novel became very popular, very quickly, as has proven to be the case with new moods of delivering and consuming the uncouth and disreputable bits of life. Here was a new device for publishing the story of the masses through fiction, pop culture engaging in the underlying political narrative via the democratizing effects of the new technologies of mass communication, our plebeian story finally in lights.

The same democratization and readily available technology that gave birth to the infrastructure upon which the Novel flourished is the same democratization that now makes authors of all of us on Facebook. When the Novel was introduced it was dismissed as pedestrian banter and it took titans of 18th century literature to prove so otherwise, taking the gossip of the sidewalk into the salons of the bourgeoisie. The chatter of the 18th century middle class is to the Novel what the social media stream of updates is to the contemporary narrative.

Except that...

One of the byproducts of the digital revolution and the social media forum is that, thanks to picture filters and our ability to curate and edit our remarks before posting, our lives will never again have to appear to be out of synch with the perception that we have of ourselves. The incessant social media content stream is the Novel in soundbites, a digital forum for personifying the daily gossip of our idiosyncratic interactions, a quasi-anonymous catalog of the intimate and mundane starring the collective group-think as the main performer in 140 characters or less. But, I ask, is the blurred realism of the social media narrative functioning in reverse of how the Novel once did? The Novel was a fictional depiction of reality. Is the social media status update a fiction trying to be real through never ending edits and filtered content?  Or is this a new fiction in a yet to be understood illusory Eden where our digital avatars play roles based on the real life we think we are depicting when there is no audience in the grandstand to watch us?  

And Still Just Because Everyone Can Doesn’t Mean Everyone Should

Even if the new novel is written in 140 or less the most sought after narratives whether real or not will continue to be the narratives that succeed at creating characters so believable in their flaws and their characterization that they will continue to induce the audience into a state of suspended disbelief where archetype and audience become indistinguishable from each other.  The rest of us will continue to play unnaturally flawless characters in a very bad novel.

  BRODY THE ARTIST FORMERLY KNOWN AS ADRIEN BRODY WITH HIS ART IN THE BACKGROUND

BRODY THE ARTIST FORMERLY KNOWN AS ADRIEN BRODY WITH HIS ART IN THE BACKGROUND

The Work Shoot

Speaking of poorly executed characters, Adrien Brody the excellent film actor, is now a painter. He recently had a show at Art Basel in Miami. Being that Mr. Brody is such a star he had no troubling wrangling up all the hoopla necessary to execute his newly developed character. The only problem is that is that the character that he is now portraying is a less an artist and more a caricature of Adrien Brody playing an artist who used to be Adrien Brody. More simply put his show “Hotdogs, Hamburgers and Handguns,” is so over the top ridiculous that it’s hard to believe that he is serious, but in case he is really trying to tell us something about ourselves such that handguns and fast food will be the end of America, then to that I raise my glass and say que provocador! My apologies to Brody(as he now wants to be referred to in the art world). Is he really trying to play this off as real? I implore you go check it out because I will not attempt to critique visual art work as this is outside of my range of pontification and understanding, but as far as this being a “work,” like in a wrestling match, this is prime grade stuff and that I have no problem talking about since that was the focus of Episode 3 The Kayfabe Spectacle (check that out before you check on Brody).

In any case at another showing at that same art convention something peculiar occurred that could have been taken out of the pages of a Kafka novel or the Dada manifesto. A woman was stabbed in the neck while models, movie stars, athletes and pimps perused the fine art on display. At first the patrons mistook this as yet another gimmick, a piece of performance art providing an additional layer of commentary for a misguided dissection of art, but was this real or not? Nobody seemed to know, but regardless a woman was stabbed in the neck and for a brief moment amongst the circus that is the Art Gallery, the patrons had the rarest of fleeting delicacies that most of us hunger for, something real.         

Those Guys Really Hate Each Other

The proverb blood is thicker than water is mistakenly understood to be referring to the idea of blood, as in the blood of our biologically familial brethren, as being much more important than the friends that we accumulate along road. However, there is another interpretation which seems to make more sense. The blood in this case is a covenant of sorts referring to the blood spilled during war with our comrades in arms and with our enemies. The water is a reference to the water of the womb, we are closer to those we have spilled blood with than to those with whom we share a mother.

 Mr. Chavez and Mr. Rosario

Mr. Chavez and Mr. Rosario

Boxers will typically hug each other after the end of a fight, an acknowledgement of having shared and spilled blood in the name of the theatre of competition. However, there are moments when the dramatized resentment of the pugilists on quadrilateral stage is overcome by what appears to be true resentment and not just spectacle; boxing becomes a display of competing excellences hypnotized by seemingly true spite. As spectators, that kind of hate resonates with us because it looks real, which is why it is not uncommon to say, “Oh those guys really do hate each other!” The intangible sincerity of men hitting each other while under the spell of hatred and violence has the capacity to echo loudly within our subconscious because it strokes our lust for seeing something real, something more reflective of our own feebleness and not just rehearsed athletic confrontation.

Protect Yourself at All Times

With fandom comes responsibility, like boxers, to protect ourselves at all times, to be on guard for the repercussions of the theatre devices that superimpose fiction on all of the different and simultaneous realities, those fraudulent moments where as an audience we work ourselves into a shoot without even knowing it. Spectating fiction obliges us to be constantly twisting and bending, to be leaning our heads from one side to another and not get caught unaware by the sideways reflections of the real and know when to distance ourselves from the delusions created by the contrasting realities.

Proust spoke of the art of putting a book down, about knowing when a book is no longer befitting of the reader’s custody, to put it down and walk away. I want to believe that this is a meditation on the art of the exit. One of the hardest things to ever master, because of the counterfactual nature of our advanced mammalian intellect, is knowing when to walk away. We are cursed by our knowledge of the realm of possible outcomes and because of it spectate beyond the end of the performance, waiting for something to happen, waiting in the grandstand for something real.           

I Used to Love Her

Baseball is too much of a sport to be a business and too much of a business to be a sport.
— Mago Septien (Baseball Storyteller)
 The harlem POLO GROUNDS

The harlem POLO GROUNDS

I used to love her and for a long time she loved me back. She was an old and regal damsel when I first met her, but she never showed her age, she had aged gracefully always finding the fountain of youth with every passing era, returning exquisite as ever. Permanently elegant in her dress and conversation, persistently methodical, always keenly aware of the historical context of her every action and of the melodrama she unraveled daily with her spectacle. To love her is to have a strong sense of history, to understand tradition and tendency. I revered her quiet unassuming pace, her long paused silences, stoic and genteel, but not quite aristocratic, just the right amount of class and crass. She told me stories of her rebellious youth, of the woolen and smartly threaded shrouds she paraded around in, of the whiskey, the cigar smoking, the city swinging, of having grown up in the urban core as the rest of 20th century immigrant America.  I was an outsider to the dominant culture that she had helped to shape and so I allowed her to shape me into it. My fascination with her persona was adolescently obvious, but she never took advantage of it she was always subtle with her charm, slow, gentle and thorough. I wanted to be an acceptable American and she seemed to hold the keys to that world. She taught me about the magnificence of failure, about virtue as an outlet for my religiosity and about her most beloved paramour; Jazz. She told me stories of her old home in the city, of its old bare bricked asymmetrical charm wedged between the apartments and shops of the working class folk that witnessed her rise to prominence, of the manner in which she had received Edna Lazarus’ tired and poor gave them a refuge from the factory. Her home held a balcony of leisure for the industrialists and grandstand of respite for the working class a proper place to channel their irreverence and frustrations and yell out salted elocutions at the authority men dressed in blue, a place of high and low brow intermingling.  

 MR. MAYS

MR. MAYS

She was my ageless history maiden, my Virgil through America.  Despite all of her graces she could be unforgiving, at times stifling, unwilling to accept that perhaps she was from another era and that she needed to be just that and not give into cheap tricks and fashion. When I met her she was no longer living in the city. She had been exiled to the suburbs into a soulless mastodon tract home made of concrete bland utopia.  She no longer had a home to herself she had to share it with brutal burly brutes, evangelical ministers, monster trucks and rock and roll stars, second fiddle to the whims of the new world that she was a part of.  I’d usually visit on Fridays I would arrive early and await her curtain call at 7:05 and for 3 hours I’d sit and listen to her, watch her, be in her presence and feel the love she still had to give and receive. Her new cavernous home had outgrown her capacity to illicit joy in others, no more intimacy, a new home with zero traces of a storied downtown past.  

The older she got she really started to show her age and her vanity. She became obsessed with staying relevant and chasing after new lovers, complacent to their need for instant gratification and raunchy heft brutality.  She got strung out on drugs to enhance her appeal and ability to awe and inspire, she tried to muscle her way into the hearts of those with plastic yellow dreams of Jerry Springer violence. Her tryst with drugs was supposedly short lived; she crashed and came down quickly shamed and ostracized by the hypocritical puritans of the land that claimed to love her. I didn’t care about her drug use and her wrinkles or her continued attempts at being liked, I still loved her despite her insecurities. Behind her back they’d say she’s old, too slow, boring, and not fast enough.  I tried to love her for what she was but she had no desire of going back to that. As regal as she always has been, she’s always been easily brought down by the insults slung at her back, the end of her; the end of my patience.

And then one day I learned that she was finally returning to her old digs in the polis, back to the downtown core, away from the ambiguity of the suburban sterility, lured back into the city with a promise of being the high maiden of the downtown scene again, the girl about town. Her exile to suburbia had almost killed her. Entire city blocks were razed and old places I used to visit were leveled to make room for a new old looking home. I didn’t care that the developers had changed the face of my city, I was happy that she was finally returning to the urban core, to her proper place. As a kid I always dreamed of being able to walk to see her, and avoid a car ride into the suffocating sprawl of middleclass resignation. She always looked so out of place next to strip malls and freeways.

I went to her house warming party to see the luxury of her new home, she had Wi-Fi and a fridge stocked with craft ales and sushi. I was looking forward to seeing old friends instead I walked into a place run amok by hucksters and marks.  She made her entrance, her façade looking timeworn but still graceful. Her style had changed, no longer refined in her dress, wearing a loose get up that looked like pajamas. She looked old, frail, irrelevant, confused, parading around like a relic, a sad memory of a past I couldn’t recognize. This was no home for a renaissance; this was a place for convalescing.  

               C.C.

              C.C.

I don’t love her anymore she’s not the same girl, pieces of her past remain but they’re no longer for me. I still go and see her, we’ve remained cordial, but I no longer go inside her home I just stare from a hill in a park behind the grandstand far away but close enough to still catch a glimpse of her pastured glory.  It’s hard to walk away from a maiden that has taught me so much, who taught me about the discipline of failure and who introduced me to Jazz and the historical necessity of remembering, who kept me company through my assimilation to the strange and amazing land of invasive wasp values. For her sake I hope she finds her fountain of youth again. I’ve moved on to greener pitch, to a land south of the gringo gate, gone to Mexico to forget that I used to love her.

Apelación a los Dioses

Ritos

Un amigo improvisó un ritual para librarse de la desdicha de ser seguidor de un equipo fracasado. Decidió un día ya no ser del equipo con el uniforme color azul el que tiene rayitos en el casco y divisó un plan para acabar con el deslumbrante dolor de irle a un club de expertos en el oficio de perder de forma incoherente,  iconoclastas, innovadores en el arte de lo absurdo.  A principio de la temporada escarbó un hoyo y arrojó al pozo todas sus vestimentas y emblemas acumulados durante los años de angustia que sufrió esperando sentirse ganador.  Bañó con gasolina y whiskey su cachucha azul, desteñida y pasada como su paciencia. Brindó y esperó hasta ya no quedar trazos físicos de su desconsuelo y sus lazos a un perdedor.

Le pregunté que si su rito era como una especie de divorcio y el me contesto que más bien era como una anulación  matrimonial; naturalmente los dioses del deporte no permiten el divorcio. La separación solo se permite en casos cuando uno de los cónyuges es diagnosticado como impotente y ya no tiene la capacidad para brindar vida y placer a su socio, en casos muy aislados se permite la separación sancionada pero bajo mucha supervisión y requiere un ritual de sacrificio.  Metódicamente cuando ya solo eran pocos los escombros, de una bolsa de papel sacó su nueva corona y la colocó encima de su testa, su nuevo emblema de identidad, auto-naturalizado como seguidor de otro club y yo su testigo de lo ya mencionado.

Mercenarios

Durante la edad media en la época de las grandes potencias Ciudad-estado de Italia los ejércitos estaban compuestos de soldados profesionales itinerantes. Estos solían no ser italianos sino suizos, españoles, franceses, daneses etc. Las batallas por el control económico de la península Italiana se ejercían bajo el mando de los condottieri , jefes militares, estrellas de su tiempo, cotizados a precios exorbitantes contratados por los gerentes de estado para traer control y fortuna a los principados de Florencia, Milán y Venecia.

Los mercenarios de la edad media hacían guerra de manera muy peculiar, un  ajedrez racional donde no era inusual que solo muriera uno que otro peón. La idea no era darse a matar, pero a forzar al contrario a quedar en una llave sin salida, esquinar hasta que el capitán de los esquinados diera la orden de “ya estuvo” y así de fácil todo mundo a su casita ahí nos vemos mañana como a las 8:00. No existía la lealtad a una bandera o escudo, la lealtad era al negocio de la guerra. Y así de fácil un día los de aquí se iban para allá y los de allá se encontraban por acá.

 Casa Goles en alquiler

Casa Goles en alquiler

En Balón Divido (2014) Juan Villoro se pregunta si un jugador de futbol puede ser simultáneamente agente y fanático del mismo equipo en el cual trabaja. ¿Podrá el Chicharito jugar y a la misma vez ser entusiasta de las Chivas, Manchester United, Madrid o Leverkusen?

Ya sea un síntoma económico de la globalización o una inatención severa generada por la época digital, la necesidad del cambio constante y la satisfacción inmediata junto con el culto de la individualidad nos ha convertido a los aficionados en mercenarios debutantes de las nuevas  Ciudades-estado de Paris, Londres, Barcelona y Milán, todos sin causa ni son de guerra, fieles solo a la victoria rápida.

Pero no se adelanten…

Un escritor norteamericano, Kevin Kelly expuso lo siguiente: “No existe una especie de tecnología que jamás haya sido globalmente puesta en extinción”.  "X nunca mata a Y", aunque existen los IPods la gente todavía compra discos no importa lo caro e impráctico que sean.  No es porque lo viejo y artesanal sea mejor pero al contrastar con lo nuevo los métodos y reliquias del pasado se ven admirables especialmente si nos cuentan que son hechas a mano.

Hablando de un pasado hecho a mano, el maestro Eduardo Galeano dijo: “En su vida un hombre puede cambiar de mujer, de partido político o de religión, pero no puede cambiar de equipo de futbol”. Así quemen o no quemen mil cachuchas y casacas.

Il condottiero

On losing

Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.
— Albert Camus

It’s true winning isn’t everything, but perhaps we have narrow views of what it means to win. Too often sport is seen as a futile endeavor, and competition as infantile. Winning gets reduced to the flip side of losing, games with winners and losers are a malevolent capitalistic contraption of figurative conquest whereby winners produce losers and thus someone gets left out.  During episode 1 Manny and I concluded that the only thing worse than a bandwagon or fair-weather fan was what we referred to as a sensible fan, a non-committal type, the kind of fan that resorts to bland aphorisms and practiced dictum in the face of defeat. These sensible fans are apt to say stuff like “After all it’s only a game, I try not to get too carried away.” The scourge of the earth!

 Thankfully sport like all other forms of theatre requires some sort of loss in order for there to be any sort of transcendence. Victory and defeat have no value if not coupled with blind non-sensible commitment to the experience of participation, of being vulnerable, whether as an actor or audience member. Losing is embedded in our cultural DNA and every master of a craft will tell you that the only way to be a winner is to lose more than anyone else. To lose often is to participate often.

 The drama of winning and losing in sports is not mere entertainment; it is more than a respite from us and our nagging, ever present personal narrative of self doubt. It’s ironic that we claim to use the theatre of sport and the arts as an escape, entertainment we call it, but there in the cathedrals of art making we commune with the personages and icons of a stage bearing our reflection, every failure on the field amplified in high definition replayed in slow motion as a reminder of our own pathetic error ridden selves and every triumph a representational deity of our higher self. The drama of the arena is made of the same matter as us and by subconsciously submitting to the melodrama of the stage we resolve to begin to fully accept the possibility of transcendence through a silly game played by often frail demigods working thru their own human frailty on a grander stage. So is it mere entertainment?

Perhaps what the sensible fan is trying to mitigate or get away from is not defeat itself, but the inevitability of an end without resolution.  Sport like a good piece of drama requires a suspension of disbelief, an acceptance of it reflecting some truth within ourselves; a story of us meant to elucidate some hidden unknown.  Nobody would ever refer to Hamlet as “just a play” not meant to be taken seriously or doubt its relevancy nor would anyone think of listening to a Duke Ellington composition or operatic aria a futile endeavor. Whether Shakespeare Verdi or Ellington is to our liking we don’t ever question the value of their works because we have come to understand these works to be borne from the continuum of human experience and emotion.  To participate in the visceral drama, feeling fleeting emotions, and to experience a fraction of existence in the present is to get closer to a resolution in some unknown future.  

A soccer match is comprised of the same elements as a piece of theatre. To live through the drama of a game of soccer is to give into a tantric, 90 minute reality divided into 2 acts, and no commercial break to escape to. It’s all there: heroes, villains, foil characters, plot devices, composition, conflict and resolution. Sport allows us an idiosyncratic dose of ritualistic habit, a sense of completion on which to lean our tired theories about how we should be living.

 To deny sports and its theatre of defeat and to feign detachment from winning and losing is akin to benching oneself. Like adolescent nihilism “I will only care and appear to give in when it’s absolutely safe to so and loss has been abated.” It’s impossible to be alive and try to understand life and go at it with caution only expecting a pleasant outcome; defeat embeds memory with marks that linger long past the marks left by victory. Losing breeds victory not only because it gives us the experience of failure, but because it leaves a lingering lesson. Even if it doesn’t matter, pretending that it does allows us to participate in the spectacle of human drama even if it is just a game.