"Beauty is not the goal of competitive sports, but high-level sports are a prime venue for the expression of human beauty. The relation is roughly that of courage to war.
The human beauty we’re talking about here is beauty of a particular type; it might be called kinetic beauty. Its power and appeal are universal. It has nothing to do with sex or cultural norms. What it seems to have to do with, really, is human beings’ reconciliation with the fact of having a body.
Of course, in men’s sports no one ever talks about beauty or grace or the body. Men may profess their “love” of sports, but that love must always be cast and enacted in the symbology of war: elimination vs. advance, hierarchy of rank and standing, obsessive statistics, technical analysis, tribal and/or nationalist fervor, uniforms, mass noise, banners, chest-thumping, face-painting, etc. For reasons that are not well understood, war’s codes are safer for most of us than love’s."
-David Foster Wallace wrote this in a grand love letter of sorts to Roger Federer (but of course; if there's ever been an athlete to bring a completely new dimension of fluid beauty to a sport...), but as an avid (overly avid? obsessive? fanatical? REALLY ANNOYING?) fan of soccer, this quote very much struck home.
When victory & scoring more goals than the opponent is the end-all purpose of the game, it's scorelines and obsessively calculated (oftentimes meaningless) statistics that become the zealous focus of all discussions and debates.
If your team loses 2-1, ultimately, that sequence of two numbers is going to be the only thing people remember.
Noone will really remember that the one goal your team did score arose from a dizzyingly calibrated series of passes, the ball arching and cutting across the pitch, weaving through and over men, gaining momentum, gaining tension, until! -bam- a perfect bicycle kick bulleting the ball J U S T beyond the stretched fingertips of the goalkeeper, suspended in time, buoyed by the collective tension of every single person watching the game.
What I mean isn't that beauty is necessarily forgotten. It's that the beauty of the game is oftentimes too correlated to victories and winning. And honestly, I would know. Most of the time, I'm part of this, and the endless pursuit of victory is what makes the game so devastatingly exciting on a primal level.
But sometimes, when I'm just watching a game I happen to stumble across, or watching a low-tension low-emotional-commitment game, I'm ALWAYS struck by the beauty of each moment. Each perfectly angled caress of the ball, the quick intelligent movements of the 11 men on the pitch as one collective creature, the defenders lunging in, sliding across the pitch until their feet - miraculously - pick out the ball entangled in the legs of the opponent - with a surgical precision and grace.
All of it. When you just sit back and watch the movements, reduce the game down to just that - an endless series of purposeful movements & manipulation of the laws of physics - the beauty of it all can elevate me into this euphoric haze (there's a word for it I learned in one of my college philosophy classes or something, but I can't remember because...college).
Anyway, this wasn't supposed to turn into some halfassed ramble but I'm procrastinating on something at work, and I don't know what else to do on ello except to adorn it WITH halfassed rambles