Monday, August 23, 2010
Sports Writing Blues
Beware of sports writers who pretend to mastery of the facts. I come across a different version of these people in academia - they can recite a bunch of dates, or quote Hegel, and for this reason they seem to think that they've figured it all out. The ones who listen, however, who have a good sense of humor and know how to hold contradiction in their head without trying to resolve it - those are the ones who are most likely to say something interesting, something insightful, something new.
More often than not, sports pundits are writing with the certainty of hindsight, finding in what they've just seen evidence of what they already know. (The one genre in sports writing that seems to escape this problem is the live streaming match report, an emerging art.)
Reader, beware of the sense of mastery which comes at the cost of a sense of wonder. Who can say why Gyan missed his penalty, or that "any player" would have done as [Suarez] did? Who can say why Iniesta can find his shot under so much pressure, how he can make that look like the easiest thing in the world? Why would we want to know these things, anyway? These qualities are unquantifiable, the events are inexplicable, and this is why they fascinate.
Much of the "hard" stories in sports, on the other hand, go unreported. What the hell is going on with the French FA? And Nigeria's Football Association? FIFA supervises football associations, but who supervises FIFA? Why did AEG back out of the LA Sol? What can fans of women's football do to combat the media's indifference to our sport?
So, I am avoiding the bloody pointless predictions of the EPL's new season. And fake scandals about WAGS, and managerial ego. Instead, I am going get back my writer's mojo by re-reading Soccer in Sun and Shadow for the umpteenth bizillionth time. And then I'll be back to explain why FIFA shouldn't have anything to do with women's football, the wonders of midnight pickup games in Los Angeles, and stuff like that.