The Tragic Element in Sports

70  bar steady  29.83  0mph NE dew-point 61  sunrise 6:18 sunset 8:16  Lughnasa

Full Corn Moon

There are times when the Olympics seem to drone on and on.  Especially gymnastics.  It’s hard to remember that the individuals have spent at least four years, in many cases more, preparing for these few seconds.

There was another addition to the age revolution.  A Russian gymnast performing for the German national team, 33, won a silver medal.  Something’s going on here.

Sport and sports develop a strange, distorted look from a distance.  Let me show you what I mean.  26 miles.  Get there as fast as you can following the path we lay out.  Grab the other person, twist them.  Stay inside the circle at all times.  Do this over and over.  We’ll decide whether you did it well.  Jump in the water.  Swim with your arms sweeping forward, together, over and over, for two lengths of the pool.  Touch the pad at the end.  Run down this path.  Dive forward onto your hands, then leap onto this.  Twist or turn in the air.  Land.  Again, we give you points.  Take this heavy metal ball.  Stand here.  However you can, throw it as far you can within this area.  Oh, don’t step outside the circle.

Pull back another level.  At age 11 a coach spots a young boy with an unusual physique and dedication.  A swimmer.  Another, with fast twitch muscles predominant.  A Jamaican.  Run.  Run.  Run.  100 meters.  An Ethiopian.  Run. Run. Run. 26 miles.  Slow twitch.

Sport finds human beings who excel in a particular physical activity, then polishes them for a chance to perform against others of similar excellence, all to see who is best.  I know this competition gets a lot of ink as a salutary, wonderful concept that “brings out the best in our young people.”  Isn’t it the opposite?  Doesn’t it lead to a focus on the short term.  On winning at all costs.  Is it any surprise that doping and cheating of many kinds follows this kind of ethos like a bad scent follows a skunk?

Sport itself, the kinesthetic intelligence at work, has obvious beauty and requires, like art, years of discipline and study. The competitive aspect of sports, which I enjoy, has a certain doomed inevitability.  I don’t know whether the culture of sport has a way of being that would not force competitors, at least some competitors, to choose shortcuts.  I don’t think so and that leads to this element of the tragic, especially in an Olympic setting where the tone matters so much.

Just thinking out loud.  This just is, it seems to me.

This entry was posted in General and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.