You Can Grade Me Shorter

Many things are perfect about this game, but it has one glaring, painful flaw: it demands your complete attention. While football promotes its fair shares of starts, stops, pauses and replays, basketball is more or less non-stop action. It’s virtually impossible to watch out of the corner of your eye, feigning sureness that you’ll bolt up in time for a key play, or grasp the ever-shifting on-court dynamics. Believe me, I’ve been trying, and would have a much easier life were this possible. Unfortunately, I can’t half-spectate a game without feeling like I’m missing most of what draws me to the sport in the first place. The score is the bottom line and the commentary good for accentuating key points, but you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that I’m all about the mangy process.

If I seem a little fanatical about this, it’s only because I’ve become deeply insecure about it as of late. When I find myself doing some other shit during the first half, it takes me longer to give myself in full to the game and I end up enjoying the whole experience less. The obvious alternative is to tune in only for some respectable fraction of a contest, but to me that is a fate worth than death’s most fiery umbrage. It’s the same kind of evil thinking that leads to the “I only watch the NBA after the All-Star Break” faux-snobbery, or the infinitely chumpish “wake me up when the playoffs start.” In part, I want to justify the last few years of my existence by saying this league is worthwhile no matter what the weather. At the same time, though, this kind of disregard for detail, this emphasis on climactic moments, is one of the more starkly lame things about American desire.

A few years back, I heard this feature on NPR that tried to explain soccer as a metaphor for life in the non-American world (citation, please?). While my countrymen see the game as slow, rambling, and almost arbitrary, its ebb and flow fits the model most human beings have for the relationship between existence and good fortune. Goals occur seemingly out of nowhere because life itself delivers blessings as if from above; a sudden spike in contentment, be it romantic, financial, or professional, is not a linear extension of all else that transpires in the realm of the ordinary. This is not to call soccer fans unambitious, or preoccupied with their own, mundane doings—instead, it’s asserting that they have a more accurate sense of the relationship between toil and transcendence. There was also a connection drawn between basketball, in which the flow of production and pay-out are nearly desensitizing, and this pragmatic view of the rhythm of bounty.

That this has stuck with me when I could give a fuck less about soccer shows how enticing a conceit it is. Naturally, though, I’m not in favor of latching onto theories that denigrate the sport that shelters me, especially not when they come from a political perspective that I’ve tried to carve out of the Association. It’s also not that hard to draw a distinction between events that warrant that the mystical treatment and those that might be connected to the less auspicious course of our lives. Clearly, everything is connected and no split second transpires for itself alone. Yet there’s also a difference between a family resemblance (“I’ve waited my whole life to meet someone like you”) and concrete correlation (“These last few years have been spent preparing to meet you in person”). Intention or longing may make a miracle all the more sweet, but they also do a lot to dilute its otherworldiness.

As a child of this brave nation, I have trouble embracing a version of humanity in which self-determination, especially that of a socio-economic nature, is a farce. It would indeed be marvelous if I didn’t have to bear this in mind, but it happens to be one of the main ways that meaning gets built within U.S.A. walls. Even someone seeking to drop out of the rat race and lubricate his dreams has to negotiate this terrain, if nothing else in acknowledging how drastically his lack of (or alternate version of) consumerism affects his identity.

Most key moments in the middle class American life-narrative are marked not only by ritual, but by some sort of major expenditure. Weddings cost a ton, engagement rings aren’t cheap, having children involves a bigger home, sending them to college drains your savings, and aging in twenty-first century ensures that your offspring get no inheritance. No shit this isn’t everyone’s life, depending on race, class, and any number of personal variables. But if you want to achieve these milestones, it’s easiest and most culturally intelligible to do them through the lens of purchase. In America you spend money to actualize these occasions, and a failure to do so puts their legitimacy in jeopardy. In these transformative moments, people often find themselves preoccupied with the financial aspect, or the idle consumerism that this money is speaking through. The rest of life, then, with its daily routine, work, and paychecks, is all just leading up to one’s ability to take one of these steps. You make money not to make more money, but in order to get along with your life through a handful of key purchases.

In the fetishization of March Madness, the Playoffs-only dabbler, the post-All-Star wailer and the second-half slacker, I see only the desire to reduce basketball to as few atomized acres of significance as is mortally possible. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but to me this outlook positively reeks of football. In that most mainstream of sports, scoring is scarce, and yet the entire game’s action is an attempt to gain traction for this production. Picking up yardage is in itself meaningless, except insofar as it has some bearing on an eventual score; the most sublime catch is forgotten if the drive fizzles. The tension between offense and defense is a mood of stasis, with the storyline awakening only when inching clearly becomes an inching toward accomplishment. You see the poetry of an honest, pragmatic grind, I see a dismal ode to being-through-large-scale-consumerism.

This vision of things, however, assumes a version of American civilization that ceased to exist about fifty years ago. Major purchases speak only to an identity founded on the most basic class distinctions, wherein a man is defined by what kind of house he can afford and how luxuriant a burial he receives. There is little or no room for individuality or nuance, as two prominent businessmen with drastically different tastes will still ultimately be judged by their similar choice in McMansions. If a black lady in Queens and a wealthy old socialite in Houston both have Louis Vitton bags, this model refuses to acknowledge the overlap, focusing instead on which one had the money to send her kids to college. Soccer’s metaphor defies the doldrums of class strata, but football embraces a way of reifying them.

These lesser purchases, however, are where we find an identity based in culture, which in America is an open market of freelance commodities and personal collage. Understanding American identity in this manner—admitting the role consumerism plays, and yet refusing to construct a thundering script for it—is about as honest as one can be about what it means to be a part of this society. While difference exists, it doesn’t preclude similarities. And this ever-shifting system of individualized statements comes not to cleave us apart, but to let us speak a common language as we elude complete and total identification with others. What’s more, how we make use of these benchmark purchases—how we fill the home, how children are raised—is a function of these smaller truths.

That, my friends, is why mankind must observe the NBA in all its impeccable might. Games may be decided in the waning seconds, but it’s in the production throughout the “meaningless” quarters and games that its texture is assembled. Although runs may be paths to nowhere, they serves as vignettes informing the final reckoning; if football endorses the exceptional nature of infrequent production, basketball screams out for the value of every acquisition, letting them be judged as their own windows out onto the contest. The medium of basketball is not tension or desperation, but a free-flowing exchange of statements, ideas, and interactions, a textured mass whose climax is more of the same. And with all of them resulting in definite production, it’s not as easy to justify wiping away the memory of them. In fact, the fourth quarter doesn’t give meaning to the rest of the contest; it’s only as meaningful as what’s preceded it. By virtue of their economy, football games are eternally close and continuous, whereas a basketball game can come down to a seemingly incongruous finale. That this sort of game strikes us as unsatisfying proves that the first three quarters’ scoring can and should be inseparable from the outcome without being subordinate to it.

Perhaps the NBA may read like an endless accumulation, a disjointed fury of production. Though to see that this mess is its own unity, rather than believing that it’s the prelude to an eventual clarity, is to see why this sport alone will suffice for FreeDarko. I’ll freely admit that I live through purchases of one kind or another, but am smart enough to see how the small and medium-sized ones are form of expression—as opposed to the hegemonic wrath of the house, wedding, and funeral.

Note: in these terms, nothing is more FreeDarko than the automobile.


At 12/11/2006 3:31 AM, Anonymous paper tiger said...

you see resistance to hegemony in the constant stylistic production of an nba game. pound me if i'm piddling, but i see same in the fact that football and soccer (okay, mostly soccer) are the only sports where one team can be clearly dominated throughout the action and still manage to come out on top.

At 12/11/2006 9:31 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

that disconnect between gigantic moments and smaller ones is why i don't feel this way about football and soccer. football makes everything subservient to the possible, infrequent scores; soccer, according to the model i mentioned, makes goals into flukes from beyond.

At 12/11/2006 9:57 AM, Anonymous ben said...

wonderful essay, i'm still digesting...

just wanted to say that the book I think you heard about was "How Soccer Explains the World" by Franklin Foer which is wonderful, and even if it's not your sport of choice you should pick it up

At 12/11/2006 10:06 AM, Blogger Vegan Viking said...

Even funerals are marked by consumerism: I'm convinced people spend huge wads on a box to be buried in the earth because they've spent their entire lives thinking money provides meaning and salvation, and they can't grasp that in death, it doesn't.

It's interesting that the interpretation of soccer seems to defy class (as you write, "Soccer’s metaphor defies the doldrums of class strata") when in Europe soccer has EVERYTHING to do with class. It's the sport of the "common" people, with hooligans who have all sorts of socio-economic grievances using the sport to unleash their fury on society.

I agree about basketball: I can't even watch a game if I don't see it from the beginning. Though I disagree with the statement "the fourth quarter doesn’t give meaning to the rest of the contest; it’s only as meaningful as what’s preceded it." Perhaps I'm convinced by a Freudian idea that only the end gives meaning to the rest (death for life, the conclusion for a book).

At 12/11/2006 10:24 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

to me, "defy the doldrums" meant acknowledging this structure while finding a way to look beyond it. so it makes sense that, with its glut of "common" action, it would be the sport of the "common man." that it offers something beyond this without a false promise of hope is the admirable part.

yeah, that statement about the fourth quarter was a bit strong. how about this: the climax is only as good as the conflict.

that is a funny saying to apply to sex.

At 12/11/2006 10:31 AM, Anonymous westney said...

Man, that Suns/Nets explosion really got stuck in your craw.

But I don't really see all that scoring being a series of small significant events. In fact, I think it would serve to diminish the scoreboard and highlight the Nash trey that tied it with seconds left. I see that not as an elective purchase that defines a self, but rather as a necessary purchase that allows one to continue living and functioning normally [flat tire on the way to work, traveling to a job interview and forgetting your tie].

A team like the Suns' inner-game identity is not all that different than, say, the Raptors or the Warriors or the Bulls, but what sets them apart are precisely those 11th-hour heroics (not just final seconds but final minutes) that allow them to transfigure the mundane fray of the first three quarters into a victory. This is even more evident when you consider that they don't regularly blow teams out and their leads are seldom safe.

At 12/11/2006 10:56 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

football would make all purchases into either ties for work or forgettable grocery outtings. i want to say that there ARE small purchases the produce life's meaning.

and it's the HOW of scoring--just like it's the HOW of organic groceries--that does makes the suns different.

At 12/11/2006 10:56 AM, Blogger Vegan Viking said...

What makes basketball unique among team sports is the long series of small plays that add up. The other team sports I can think of generally involve big plays and rare scores. The series of 1, 2, and 3 points makes it unique, and find your interpretation of it intriguing.

At 12/11/2006 12:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I view football as a battle between zaibatsus led by two CEOs (the head coaches) into a long and physical battle for supremacy. The small details - the techniques used by offensive linemen to stop the behemoths of the opposition from interfering with the prototypical human delivery system putting the ball into the hands of a rabbit-tank elsewhere, the odd placement of the Denver Broncos cornerbacks, every portion of Mike Vrabel's game - build into a seething struggle to beat the others into submission for the satisfaction of victory.

The problems with the NFL are many: many of the CEOs are incompetent, ignorant meatheads incapable of realizing the revolution of strategy by "childish" video games as they get lost in the "I know you know that I know that you..." labyrinth, the too frequent timeouts and the glorification of the wrong players and the wrong tactics, the enormous physical cost of the demanding sport. However, the NBA for all its speed and marketing remains secondary in my book for one simple reason - there's too many games. The vicious struggle for dominance becomes a protracted siege in which the team with the best suction with the refs win e.g. Miami Heat, World Champions of 2006.

I view the short but white-hot annual competition between NFL zaibatsus as far more indicative of geo-political realities than the constant frenzy of the NBA's 10 men on the court.

At 12/11/2006 12:45 PM, Anonymous ECA said...

I wish I had something good to contribute, but I really just want to give Shoals credit for writing a great essay. (Love the work on Heaven and Here as well, btw.)

At 12/11/2006 1:18 PM, Blogger whitefolks said...

Within the cycle, the small purchases beget the big ones and then back around, again.

Buy a lottery ticket for $1, small purchase, small impact at that time. If you win, completely changes your life.

Spend a few hundreds of dollars wining and dining a girl that you're interested in (if that's the necessity). All of that work is potentially built up to make a $.50 purchase to protect ones wedding tackle. But, if you don't make that purchase, then the lack of a decision could end up costing you an unbelievable sum.

As you can tell, I'm not interested in some unwanted kids.

At 12/11/2006 1:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do I sense a degree of Post-Bodie melancholy, Shoals? (I'm with you on that by the way...)

It's interesting that you should use this framework to explain your dislike of soccer, as if I did a find-replace (and dumbed it down a bit) I would write the same thing about that game, how the textures and storylines of each match cause it to take on a greater meaning than a mere glance at the final score and league tables would indicate. (Yesterday's Arsenal-Chelsea clash is almost a perfect case in point, for those who follow...)

And to what extent is FD meant to push back against the post-MJ homogenization that nearly ruined the league before this new generation (and credit where it's due, the commish's efforts to reduce thuggery to increase the room for expressiveness) emerged? I think on this point, your ironic distance from middle class conformity is telling, in that there is no pushback against that - consume uber alles has not only maintained, it has accelerated.

This is why I hate the dress code, and the anti-taunting Nazism that gets Yao Ming (Yao Ming! T'ed for woofing. With the mass production of hip-hop largely complete, The Association is perhaps the last mainstream avenue where such individualism (not selfishness, my Randian friends) is accessible and acceptable.

At 12/11/2006 1:48 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i probably should've been clearer on this, but to me, basketball represents the way in which American life can come to grips with its consumerist nature while maintaining some integrity. i see soccer as avoiding the consumerist overtones of scoring/statistical production, since everything in the game either occurs under its radar or beyond its grasp.

At 12/11/2006 2:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Within the game/match, perhaps. However, soccer is more explicitly capitalistic/consumeristic off the field - players are literally bought and sold and teams will literally sell the shirts (or at least space on the front) off the players' backs for the right price.

At 12/11/2006 3:15 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

I was waiting for someone to get to soccer capitalism. Being a so-called "sport of the lower class" while bending under the weight of jillions of euros changing hands gives it an irony greater than all American sports put together. It will always be a game of haves and have-nots at all levels of resolution, and the aspect of it that resonates so well with the common man is the off chance that willpower and fate come together and move a team forward to a higher plane (either in the course of game play or a whole season).

This happenstance, of course, occurs as commonly in soccer as it does in real life. Maybe human brains are wired such that they reject all but a narrow bandwidth of yearning, as our eyes only register visible light.

As for game play itself, you said that soccer avoids consumerist overtones because the movement of the game is usually below the level of actual production. So do you mean that soccer is good for this, or that basketball is the more American because it speaks in the language of production, or both? And is American life measured more by production, or by consumption?

At 12/11/2006 3:23 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

do you mean that soccer is good for this, or that basketball is the more American because it speaks in the language of production, or both?

by "production," i meant statistical production. game milestones/points/statistical production are likened to purchases, which are consumer events.

america is a land of consumers. living in america is a consumerist endeavor with no beginning or end. i am trying to find some positive meaning in this.

And is American life measured more by production, or by consumption?

most of what the average american produces is labor to make money, which then goes toward consumption.

At 12/11/2006 4:01 PM, Blogger Vegan Viking said...

Good luck finding the "positive meaning" of "a consumerist endeavor with no beginning or end." Sounds like an existentially meaningless state of affairs to me.

At 12/11/2006 4:17 PM, Anonymous geebs said...

most of what the average american produces is labor to make money, which then goes toward consumption.

not to nit-pick here, but the average american does not "make money", that's the Fed's job. The average american "earns income". That small point aside, good diatribe: Basketball, I think, makes an excellent metaphor for the struggle for and against consumer ideologies in this country. I think you are on the right track when you say "i am trying to find some positive meaning (ie: positive market externalities, utility, etc) in this..."
Don't be discouraged. Focus on the small victories. They make better stories to tell, any way.

At 12/11/2006 4:49 PM, Anonymous Steve said...

I think some of you may be missing the larger point: Basketball, with very little exception, rewards the better players with better stats. It rewards better teams with victories.

Hard Work = Tangible Resulta and good fortune.

The American Dream, no? As Doc would say: "The whole Horatio Alger bit". Whereas in Soccer the better players on a given team can have a large impact without contributing to a team's scoring, and to that extent, the outcome of a game. Paper Tiger hit the nail on the head when he said that a soccer team "can be clearly dominated and still manage to come out on top". This simply cannot happen in basketball.

At 12/11/2006 5:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tiger hit the nail on the head when he said that a soccer team "can be clearly dominated and still manage to come out on top". This simply cannot happen in basketball.

Well it can, (some might suggest that the finals last season...) but is much rarer.

BTW, I think the equation of soccer with "lower class" is primarily British (and perhaps French) rather than Europe-wide. Mainly because they don't play cricket (or rugby) anywhere else.

At 12/11/2006 5:28 PM, Blogger Robo Duck said...

a difference between soccer and basketball is that soccer is rated much more organically. You won't find the TV talking heads sitting around going over lines of stats, nor will you talk about guys in terms of average stat lines; you talk about their qualities like field vision, passing, tackling, attitude.

two things they do share in common, though, is that basketball and soccer are the two most aesthetically pleasing sports and are also the two "coolest" sports. Take your "X wants to be a basketball player" post and replace "basketball" with "soccer" and it applies to the world outside of north america.

At 12/11/2006 7:48 PM, Blogger El Huracan Andreo said...

nice work.

At 12/11/2006 8:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting that cricket was mentioned as a class-defined sport - certainly in England it is an upper class sport, but in Australia it is most certainly a class-defying sport. Literally everyone plays it from any background - there is no such thing as class distinction within cricket clubs. As a case in point, our (Australia's) most famous cricketer is a womanising text message obsessed moron who comes from as distinguished a heritage as someone like David Beckham has come from... And, as far as I know, this stand pretty well for most other cricketing nations - New Zealand, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, the West Indies (they include most caribbean nations in their team) etc. do not have the obvious class divide dictating who will play the sport. That said, soccer is huge in Australia as well, given our enormous European migrant population from the 50s and our Colonial past, but it is viewed generally as a migrant sport, second class compared to Aussie Rules football in southern states and Rugby League (NOT Rugby itself) in northern states...

At 12/11/2006 9:10 PM, Anonymous Amphibian said...

a womanising text message obsessed moron
You have a Lindsey Lohan too?

At 12/11/2006 10:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem with Shoals' definition of basketball intake as pseudo-soccer subversion of Big America consumption is that it denotes the viewership of a single game as the predominant, untouched methodology and existence of fandom. I would say that the fantasizing of Basketball melds it with the ideology of Football and Baseball, i.e. the big score.
Fantasy Sports in a sense becomes code for American Football, American Baseball, American Basketball. So the big score becomes equated, in fantasy terms, with the big night. The breakdown of football into touchdowns vs. empty gruntwork is mirrored into the breakdown of basketball into 15/8 nights and 34/12/9/4/4 nights - the touchdown catch. Granted one that takes 2 hours plus to watch, but 15 seconds on Sportscenter and 14 less on a stat sheet / fantasy roster.


At 12/11/2006 11:06 PM, Anonymous Torgo said...

I like your take on this. For a long time, I've had this ongoing way of describing the difference between basketball and soccer as the idea between American style capitalist democracy vs. European stagnant socialism and/or oppressive dictatorships . (Please, bear in mind, it's mostly tongue in cheek, and I don't necessarily advocate the Amurican way of life, even if it's where I'm from. I think Shoals is rather brave, trying to find some meaning in it)

Soccer, in essence, trains people in these "oppressive societies" for a lifelong grudging acceptance of the flow of life. The constant anticipation of soccer (he's gonna, he's gonna) followed by the near constant letdown (damn, off the crossbar) is prep for government letdowns, long lines, failed five year plans, and so on. The rare score (or better yet, penalty shootout) is like bread and circuses; without it, the populace would be unwilling to continue toignore the larger, bleaker reality of their oppressed lives.

On the other hand, basketball is the sport of instant gratification. Most teams, most nights, any trip down the floor ends in some feat of "oooh". An impressive basket, a well executed defensive stop, or Gilbert going from hawk to yo-yo to rocket to sand dollar. We get our money's worth. And if we didn't on this possession, wait 24 seconds, and it'll be there.
Plus, deep down inside, on a regular basis, basketball is the only (major) sport where anyone playing at the end of the game can be the gamewinner. Soccer, with it's defined roles, rarely sees a defender score a goal, and, well, keepers... maybe they make a save, but I don't think defense is what we want to see (that's football, right?). Soccer says "here's your role. learn it. love it." The roles in basketball are even now losing their last bit of rigidity. To play ball, to watch ball, is to embrace freedom, to be who we want to be, and so on.

WV:ofwpds offense wins, but points don't suck

At 12/12/2006 1:19 AM, Blogger The Electric Zarko said...

Soccer had its positional revolution nearly 3 decades ago (see: "total football"), so in that way, it fulfills the "Europe seems more archaic yet feels like it's more advanced because it already dealt with that before" metaphor that crops up with some regularity.

And, to talk about how soccer skews toward the possibility of an overwhelmed team achieving victory would be ignoring

a) that most soccer leagues and all of the major European ones rely on a format that's designed to account for upsets, that being that the champion is the team that has accumulated the most points over the course of the season, which eliminates the "randomness" of relying on a playoff format to determine a winner;

b) that even in a format that's highly vunerable to the upset (the World Cup), only 7 nations have won (out of a total of 18 competitions) and 3 of those have one it once (and in the case of Uruguay, not since 1950).

At 12/12/2006 3:02 AM, Anonymous paper tiger said...

okay, i was set to whine again, on this count: you're drawing an analogy between basketball and american life by saying that the statistical production within the game is akin to our consumer events; through personal style/choice, we retain integrity. my quibble was that in basketball, there's all zillion different ways to score the same two points (different paths to same thing), whereas in your rendering of american life, we all endure the same struggle but display unique purchase patterns (same path to different things). so that struck me messy.
but then tonight i was reading and got this: "as a result of the enrichment of working-class culture, workers come to see themselves as "consumers," as cultural beings, defining themselves not by the kind of work they do but by the forms of leisure, the types of pleasure, they engage in....in culture-the production of labor power- lies the very resistance to becoming labor power." expanding cultural consumption past purchases to include leisure, entertainment, etc. (a) lets me look past the bone i flirted with picking, and (b) oughta let you feel better about your search for some "positive meaning" in a life of consumerism by just understanding that the nba is your primary consumption, and through it you resist the rest. don't look for the bright side of living it- embrace the ways that you fight it.
or, fuck, if that doesn't make any sense just take a smile from the fact that it now says "shoals" in my michael denning.

At 12/12/2006 3:06 AM, Anonymous paper tiger said...

or even just forget the problem i mentioned about same/different paths/things. cause i get that you're saying that the unique or expressive nature of our smaller purchases IS the way we take different paths to the banality and structure of the larger ones. basketball and life, different paths to same things. point: shoals.

At 12/12/2006 3:44 AM, Blogger the_jdg said...

two other subspecies of NBA jackassery:
1. the two-minute man - "The last two minutes are all that matters in an NBA game. and why do they take as long as the other 46? Sheesh!"

2. first 5/last five - individuals who believe that the first and last five minutes set the inevitable tone, and the middle 38 are meaningless...

At 12/12/2006 9:30 AM, Blogger Vegan Viking said...

Does the consumerist interpretation of basketball change if you consider that most fans are actually rooting for a particular team?

Basketball, more than any other sport, is a game of runs. Through the course of 48 minutes, each team is likely going to have a few 6-0, 10-4, 12-2 runs, something like that.

If you're watching just to appreciate the game, those runs, for either team, can be joyful instant gratificiation. If you're watching with a rooting interest, then those runs have an ebb and flow of joy and pain. The ebb and flow of consumerism, the joy of having and the pain of losing, the joy of spending and the pain of earning? Perhaps.

But the game is different if you're rooting, in many ways. If rooting for a football, baseball, or soccer team, every score the opponent gets can be painful. In basketball, even if you are rooting and your favorite team plays a superb defensive game, at the very least you expect the opponent to get 60-80 points. You have to learn to accept the scores the other team gets.

Perhaps, then, those other sports are closer to rampant competitive capitalism than basketball is? In other sports, you want ALL the points, you want to dominate and completely prevent your opponent from getting anything. In basketball, you must accept that the others are going to get theirs too, that it can't all be for you.

At 12/12/2006 9:49 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

link: a certified FD classic on the subject of runs.

pv, my model probably does assume some sort of sympathy for the "both teams play hard" brand of viewing. or rather, it prizes the "good game" over victory, which is something not that far off from mainstream basketball thinking: people delight in seeing their NFL team stomp out an opponent, but unconditional NBA trouncings are incomplete and unwatchable.

At 12/12/2006 10:35 AM, Anonymous J.E. Skeets said...

Is this a 3/4-court buzzer beater to end the half, Ronnie Price over Boozer, or neither?

At 12/12/2006 10:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with what Shoals said above - that most people who are NBA fans (certainly those to such an extent that they read blogs about yo-yos and cheeseboots) are basically rooting for a good game. I would even go farther to say that most of these fans root more for players and the aesthetics of certain teams than they do for the team itself. For example, I think most of the Dallas fans from a couple of years ago have now firmly jumped onto the Phoenix train.

Also, someone brought up earlier a point that the absurdly bad refereeing of many Finals makes the season as a whole obsolete and not worthwhile. One, the point of this piece was that each game is valid in its own right, so an illegitimate champion has no effect on these other games. And two, their contempt, or at least disregard for, the regular season is a big part of why the Heat are so reviled by the bloggers, seemingly proving the point that even though the Finals purport to be the standard for excellence, the true measure of value is indeed widely held to be the day-to-day.


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