Monday, March 05, 2007

Sport and Art

George Szirtes wrote, in a comment about Ryan Giggs:

"It is hard to explain to those who have no taste for football that it can be exciting in exactly the same way as art can."

For me, it is the narratives in sport that make it so fascinating. I remember sporting events the way that I remember plays, novels, or movies that are successful because of their well-made plots. And within that, then, the moments of grace: Jerry Rice swerving around the sideline marker to score a touchdown in a Super Bowl back in the late eighties, for example (26-21 for the 49ers, if I remember correctly). That memory is not quite as vivid as the lip twitch that Kevin Spacey produces in The Usual Suspects (where the first time you see the movie, it means nervousness; and the second time, it means amusement) or the similar twitch Jennifer Ehle produces near the end of the BBC Pride and Prejudice (which to her family would mean she hates Mr. Darcy, while to the audience it means she loves him)—but I've seen each of those lip twitches several times, and I only saw Rice's touchdown once.


mrjumbo said...

I agree about the narratives. I'm not what you'd call a boxing fan, but Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali fascinate me, and their fights were worth watching. Tyson was no noble fighter, and by the end even his skills were collapsing, but the fights were no less riveting.

And I think I'm more or less the same way with pro cycling. Lance Armstrong's sixth or seventh Tour de France win was more engaging because it was the end of an arc; a guy who's winning his first or second Tour is just any old schnook. Unless you know him from other races, of course, in which case you've already got part of the narrative filled in.

Weirdly enough, I feel the same about bars--it's the narratives that make them seductive. A bar with no regulars has much less attraction. But a bar where, as people walk in, you don't need to say a word to read the latest chapter--there's a great place to have a beer!

Andrew Shields said...

Your comment suggests that it is not narrative in particular but sequence in general that is attractive. Anything that can be seen as an ordered series of some kind becomes interesting.

It's the difference between "day after day" and "day by day": boring repetition, or developing sequence.