Sunday, September 11, 2005

Why I Like Sports Movies Better Than Sports Themselves

I am not a sports fan. That's not to say that I don't like sports; I do. I just don't have the patience and the zeal to religiously follow a team's standings every single day. I enjoy a good game (especially football) every once in a while, but I'm simply not a fan. I have trouble identifying with a team in order to truly care about how they perform; more often than not they're either a completely anonymous and personality-less group of athletes (most football teams) or they have such a ridiculously over-constructed identity as to rival that of a professional wrestler (the Boston Red Sox).

Sports movies, however, when they're done well, offer up teams with strong personalities without, ironically enough, imbuing the viewer/fan with a sense of having his/her emotions manipulated. We grow to love our team's collection of personalities before they become winners and when they enter competition after a rough training period we have to suffer with them before they win out in the end (as we know they will) and, in so doing, we become their fans.

I've just now watched Andre Agassi lose to Roger Federer in the U.S. Open final round and I'm disappointed because, for the first time since I was a child, I was a fan. Watching the Open this summer, I couldn't help but succumb to the infectious charm and energy of Andre Agassi, who, like the protagonists of a sports movie, overcame all odds to reach the final round at the ripe old age of 35. Uncharacteristically, I found myself pumping my fist in the air at every point earned and slamming my hand against the nearest hard surface with a disappointed "Godammit, Andre!" at every single unforced error.

I suppose it's because he's a single person and not a team that I managed to become one of Agassi's many fans. If he weren't the only one out there, his enthusiasm and boyish smile wouldn't have meant nearly as much. Either way, I don't expect to be as much of a fan again for a good long while. Or at least until the next good sports movie comes out.


Blogger red wine said...

over-constructed? manipulative? those are my brethren you're talking about. i should kill you. or at least have a group of fat, drunk, bald guys named sean from southie whack you with a crowbar. if you're into charming individual athletes, take your pick: there's johnny damon (my personal favorite), edgar renteria, manny ramirez, mark bellhorn, mike timlin, tim wakefield, and jason freakin' varitek, to name only a few. we have more sweet, simple heroes than we know what to do with.

September 13, 2005 11:29 AM  

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