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Friday, May 20, 2016

Living Vicariously

I am a total bro. By that I mean that in some ways, I am a stereotype: I love sports, I love Tom Cruise, (especially between the years of 1986-1992) and I don't need an invitation to eat steak. And I guess that the very idea of sports, and men talking about it, is upsetting to some people. They could after all be talking about whatever is in The Atlantic, or on NPR right now. Non-bros satirize things; they talk ironically; they drink craft beer. I drink Budweiser, for 2 reasons: I don't like taste explorations in food or drink, and the Busch family owned the Cardinals for who knows how long. Done, and done.

Sure, I'm deeper than that. I'm actually curious about what's in The Atlantic right now. With regard to sports, though, it's pretty simple: Men want to feel useful, connected, and alive. The next time you are tempted to dismiss 2 guys talking about sports, don't. Aside from the ways the sport accomplishes those three things in its limited way, realize what else is taking place: they are studying each other. You can tell a lot about a guy by how he talks about sports, not whether he does. Seriously. If a man is critical and ungracious, it'll come out by how he reacts. Sidebar.

Anyway, we are especially keen on remaining alive, even if we don't consciously realize it most of the time. And I'm not even close to being morose about having a severe disability, but I absolutely know that my enjoyment of sports is a rebuke of the Fall and its miseries. My favorite athletes are the aging ones. All athletes fail, but aging athletes fail habitually. They struggle. They are no longer expected to do what they did before. But sometimes, they do. That's something I understand.

I am a catalogue of factoids and intriguing trivia, such as the fact that when the French Open tennis major tournament starts on Sunday, it will be the first time in 66 major tournaments that the field will not include Roger Federer. There are 4 major tournaments annually. I trust you can do the math.

And oh, what a joy it is to watch him! When I was trying to finish college, and beginning graduate school, Federer ruled men's tennis. It was the graceful savagery of total dominance in those days. I only regret I hadn't the time to take it in. Now, the grace is still there, but there is a hint of average human in there. He's not the favorite when he comes into the big matches. Of course not. Federer was reigning (along with Nadal) when Novak Djokovic was asking that one girl to the prom.

I find myself having a really intense emotional experience when I watch him now. C'mon, Roger! You can do this. You're the greatest ever. Just this one time, show them again. It's not about just him anymore. Surely we know that. He will walk away in a short time, spending most of his days with his lovely wife and wonderful children. None of this hardship is strictly necessary, in the grand scheme. But maybe just this one time, in a small way, let's soar. Finitude can wait.

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