By pure chance, I was flicking around TV last Sunday and landed on the 17th hole of the Masters Tournament. I have never considered golf a spectator sport, and the way I play it, it’s not much of a participatory sport either.
I share my home and my heart with someone who is currently obsessed with binge-watching Game of Thrones to get caught up on the current final season. Watching Tiger Woods marching through a crowd chanting his name, the only difference I could see between these two programs were the costumes.
One of the most hopeful things about the human race is the amount of time, energy, money, and enthusiasm we devote to sports. We are fascinated to see people do what nobody has done before and find out who can run the fastest, jump the highest, get a ball into a target or hit it with a stick. There are people who go to violent extremes in support of their team, but their problem is violence, and they would find any excuse to unleash it. I can’t blame sports for that.
Sports, like music and science, has its own vocabulary and sensibility that appeals to some people and has the opposite effect on others. Like those other fields, those who are most successful at it usually recognize how lucky they are and want to help younger people to follow their path.
I realize now that my hesitation to go down the Game of Thrones rabbit hole is not just resistance to pop culture phenomenon. I resent the idea that the pursuit of power is a worthy subject for entertainment. But if power is used in a constructive way – whether to fight injustice, or to hit a ball into a cup better than anyone else can – let the the games begin.