Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Spectacle of Sport

Well I haven't done this in far too long but since I'm now a graduate (wooo!) and don't have much intellectual stimulation in my job, I thought I'd attempt to bring this back as a means of creative output. Topics can often be tough for things like this but I decided to go for a basic premise: my love of sport and its spectacle. Predominantly, people are drawn to things they excel at. Now I would never say that I am good at sport. I've never been the fastest or the most co-ordinated but I suppose every dog has his day (mine being a hat trick for the Metro under 10s, taking 5-15 when I was fourteen and batting three hours to save a game for the second XI) but I would in no way say that I am athletically gifted. What then draws me to spend hours every day reading about various sports from cricket to football to American football? The answer is the spectacle. Sport is a brilliant vehicle for unpredictable outcomes, unknowns becoming heroes, and endless passion. Sport is an international language that leads a young adult from New Zealand to form an association with people in London and Denver through my allegiance to Arsenal and the Broncos respectively. It can be understood and enjoyed by all, young to old such as myself and my grandfather. It is not race dependant nor is it exclusive but instead all encompassing. The unpredictability draws us together and it is two particular recent events that have made me think about this. One is the just completed 2014 NFL Draft and the other is the final day of the English Premier League due to finish overnight New Zealand time.

Me being average at sports since ages ago
My foray into American football is a recent development but it is quickly becoming my favourite sport. I have always loved statistics which is what endeared cricket to me despite my utter ineptitude at maths (I'm noticing a theme here. Note to self: start doing things that you're actually good at, ya dumbass). While cricket has averages, strike rates and the like, American football has yards per carry, yards per attempt, yards after the catch, I could really go all night but the just of it is that it is a statistician's dream. The NFL also provides some of the greatest sporting spectacle you can find in the world. The Super Bowl is an event watched worldwide even if the majority do not understand what they are watching. The draft is the epitomy of the spectacle that the NFL provides. Literally bright lights, cameras and the Radio City Music Hall in New York to select players out of college (what am I doing with my life again?). All of this but no actual physical activity! Yet plenty of what attracts people to sport: narrative.
Oooh flashy
These are young men reaching their dreams so the narratives are plentiful. Will the young, athletically talented man from the poor background be able to support his family is the prevalent narrative but this year threw out some interesting ones. When would the ridiculously talented but questionable character Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M be drafted? Would the first openly gay NFL prospect Michael Sam be drafted? Well firstly there was the struggle with Johnny. After sitting there sipping water for twenty one picks filled with close up after close up, Johnny Football was selected by the Cleveland Browns with the twenty second pick.
Mmm, bet you wish that wasn't just water huh, Johnny?
Will it be a good pick or will Johnny be another quarterback fail in Cleveland? This is surely a narrative that will be brought up for every one of the sixteen Browns games over the season and one I look forward to following closely. The other is that of Michael Sam. Late last year, Sam became the first ever NFL draft prospect to come out as gay. Many saw a chance for one of America's oldest games to step into the twenty first century but others saw bigoted comments and disapproval. Now Sam is a decent player, being named co-defensive player of the year in his conference last year, surely worth a draft pick but it seemed as if it wouldn't come. Then with the 249th pick of the draft, the St Louis Rams (the team that also selected the first black player into the NFL in 1946) called his name and produced this image.
Spine tingling
Again, narratives are prevalent as a man looking to achieve his dreams in the face of adversity is presented to the world. So I definitely look forward to hearing about Michael Sam the football player and less about Michael Sam the gay football player. This small sample size not even including games, shows the great sporting spectacle of the NFL and why it brings people together. The other event which is sure to illicit spectacle is the final day of the English Premier League.
While my Arsenal have long since been in the race for the Premier League title, the ending is still exciting. Liverpool, a club of great historical greatness, finally climbed back to the top until a late slip (sorry Stevie) allowed Manchester City back into the race. Now it comes down to the final day. If Liverpool win and Manchester City lose then the title will return to Anfield but all City need is to beat lowly West Ham at home to keep the title in Manchester. I remember City's title two years ago where a last minute goal from Sergio Aguero caused me to jump around at four in the morning as Manchester United missed out on the title. This was the greatest of sports narratives at hand. An Italian passes to an Argentinian, who scores causing thousands of English people to sing their names as the 'little brother' City upset United. Even within the game, sixteenth placed Queens Park Rangers were upsetting second placed City despite being a man down, demonstrating the 'Any Given Sunday' adage that makes me love sport so much. West Ham have pedigree in denying titles as they did twice to Manchester United in the 90s and also contain former Liverpool players, leaving a story book finish possible. I, personally think City will win the title but I've been wrong before about sport and will happily be wrong again but one thing is for certain, I'll be watching and loving every spectacle ladened minute of it.


  1. Very good indeed but hope that wasn't 5.40am NZ time. More please...

  2. PS You might want to rethink your subtitle. Not sure you can play the teenage card any more.

  3. Spectacle of Sport, great sharing
    Very Nice Blog