Why I love those who love sports

I never realized till today how grateful I am to sports fans. OK, not all of them, but at least to the sports enthusiasts among my friends. Let me illustrate with 2 examples.

Sports fans:
Last Sunday, I found myself trapped in a house with 3 basketball fans. Never a good thing, that, especially this time of the year [1]. As luck would have it, a game was on, and I amused myself by waiting for the beer ads and browsing the internet on my laptop in the time between ad breaks. Once in a while I’d engage the one person who cared to listen to me, till the other two figured that the team (I believe it was the Lakers) they were rooting for scored better whenever we were talking. We were given strict instructions to continue talking, which of course ensured that I suddenly had nothing to talk about.

At some point, even I had to admire their childish enthusiasm for this game. And feeling like the aunt who offers to take you to the circus, and filled to the brim with goodness and tolerance, I made the ‘grand gesture’ – offered to go watch a game with them, featuring the local team, whatever it was [2].

Readers, OK – me.
In my experience, the best tele-evangelist can’t hold a candle to a reader [3]. We, and by that I mean readers, are constantly guilt-tripping ourselves and others into reading something or the other. If I had one Andorran Peseta [4] every time I’ve heard the words “you must read this”, “you’ll love it”, “no Indian authors, shame on you!”, and my personal favorite – “you’ll hate it, but you must read it”, I’d be richer than Crassus. Yesterday, I read the new Jhumpa Lahiri story. My first action was to email the story to select friends. They don’t know this, but they’re part of a pet project of mine. You see, I’m trying to save their souls. I’m doing this through the administration of frequent infusions of great writing. Great according to me, of course. And because I care about them, I’ve designed an easy to follow (also according to me) 7-stage process.

Stage 1: Reading emails with paragraphs.
Stage 2: Any article of 300 words or less
Stage 3: Fiction, happy / Humor. Samples include shorter pieces by David Sedaris, James Thurber and the like. (for those whose palate is not yet strong enough for Brokeback Mountain and the like)
Stage 4: Fiction, sad, but not too sad. Think Jhumpa Lahiri.
Stage 5: Fiction, with abstract elements. Like Haruki Murakami.
Stage 6: A whole novel.
Stage 7: This is the toughest level, and a person will have arrived at this stage when he or she sends me something from NYRB, or better yet, from the Paris Review.

Graduation: The day they go to a library all by themselves and borrow ten or more books. I plan to photograph the moment, and keep the snap in my wallet, and bore every stranger with proud stories of my children, er, friends.

I ramble on, as always. To return to the Lahiri story – one of my friends emailed back. He said he’d enjoyed the story very much, and asked me who Jhumpa Lahiri was. Clearly, the New Yorker is as important to him as the Dallas Mavericks are to me.

I replied back somewhat contemptuously, but soon realized how his reaction was practically identical to my own from earlier in the week. I also recalled that although he’s a huge sports fan, not once has he sent me sports scores or whatever it is that those people send each other.

Friends and family have, at various points, tried to explain to me, the intricacies of football or cricket or some other game. I’ve never really paid attention. In turn, I’ve tried over the years to get them to read / worship various writers, newspapers, novels and magazines. I must admit that I’ve had a teeny bit more success than the sporting lot. Or these sports fans are better actors than they are evangelists. In either case, thank you – for letting me be, and for being more generous with me than I have been with you.

[1] Their playoffs” are on. If you’d wondered why this time of the year is relevant or don’t understand what a playoff is, can I join your hate-sports support group?
[2] Note to self: never kid yourself that you’re indulging someone else. My friends’ responded to this was a hoot of laughter (I happen to live in Dallas, which supposedly has a rather popular team) and the sort of look one gives children of 5 or below when they’ve said something particularly clueless and therefore amusing. They almost said those 2 incredibly offensive words ‘cho chweeet’. Then again, they didn’t have to – their look said it all.
[3] I do not include people who have the temerity to call themselves readers because they read a Tom Clancy novel 3 years ago or because they just can’t wait to get their hands on the latest issue of Woman’s Era.
[4] Why such fondness for an obsolete currency[5]? It had the least value against the dollar, as determined from a highly unscientific survey on oanda.com (1 US Dollar = 186.167 Andorran Peseta)
[5] And why the devil does oanda continue to list obsolete currencies? I found out the damn thing was obsolete only when I tried to hunt some more details about the country I should build my imaginary hacienda in!

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4 comments so far

  1. Karthik on

    Oh, readers are so much better than fans of any sport except cricket. Basketball, eww.

    And hey, cool post…

    Karthik, who is trying hard to decipher your cross-posting algorithm.

  2. DoZ on

    Spoken like a true reader. And thank you.
    If you figure out this algorithm you mention, do let me in. Am quite clueless about it myself 🙂

  3. Falstaff on

    doz: Interesting. You do realise that’s just book-evangelism for beginners? The undergraduate course as it were. Once you get them to the point where they’re reading novels is when you start on poetry – start with Tennyson and early Blake, move slowly on to Eliot, Auden and Neruda, finally get to Mallarme and Brodsky.

  4. DoZ on

    Falstaff, hush! We don’t want to scare them away by letting them in on the big plan too early. My program works on a strict need to know basis.–>


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