Thursday, August 13, 2009

Seasons of Sport

Football began all over the country this weekend. Not really, but on all the college campuses that have football teams, teams began practicing. Freshmen joined the teams and after a couple days of warming up, they graduate to wearing helmets and then after four or five days to full pads. That's it. College football has begun.

Actually this is the week for the beginning of college volleyball, men and women's soccer, and cross country. But for most fans and especially for TV stations, football begins the college sport season.

Not a game has been played, but that is a blessing, that is the point. My own school's team went 12-0 last year. So for one pristine moment, all the fans can hope and dream of a season where the players will win and the fans can enjoy the game and the extended sense of identity they draw from rooting for the team, even a 0-12 team.

Sports define their own seasons of mind and life. These seasons define the time line and weather for follows of a sport. It's not summer, it's not autumn, it's football season. The rhythm of their lives will be determined by the weekly play of their team on Saturday (or who knows what day now with ESPN stuffing college football into all its nightly TV windows). ESPN aside, time changes for a football fan.

The storms and sun of the weather of their lives will be determined by the Saturday game. Sunday is shaped by sunny elation or gloomy disappointment. Monday begins the rehashing what went wrong or right. The rankings come out which precipitates another set of arguments and discusions over who should be in the top ten and whether they should be a playoff. Tuesday they at look at the next opponent. Wednesday people drag up obscure facts about both teams and talk about game plans. Thursday and Friday simmer in anticipation of Saturday and then THE GAME.

The great thing is the cycle of expecations, discussion and play and reaction continues for fifteen weeks. It covers the end of summer, all of autumn and the beginning of winter!!! It has its own rhythm and space/time. It provides a consuming focus for talk, interest and a focal point for weathering real weather or real life. Sports create their own seasons where people can live and die and live their own lives through and with their teams. Who needs weather when we have sports?

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