Thursday, May 13, 2010

Seventh Game

I love sport. I love watching athletic competitions of all sorts. And there’s little in sport that I like better than a seventh game!

Sport is a beautiful thing, and I’ve never quite understood those who are immune to its appeal. I understand that as little as I understand those who are indifferent to music or to sex. And I especially fail to understand those who are enthusiastic about the arts, but who consider sport to be crude, low class, and without aesthetic appeal.

Sport is like improvised theatre. It is athletic jazz. It is drama on a sometimes epic and mythic scale, played out for real stakes between opposing sides obsessed with their goal, which is victory.

The fact that sport involves the most basic instincts and impulses of man does not in any way relegate it to being crude and without art. Sport is the artistry of the human body. But it is not merely physical. It is conflict and expression encompassing all of the passion, intrigue, risk, dilemma, jealousy, heroism, and tragedy of human life. Sport among champions is Shakespeare on a playing field. And rare and exquisite is the artistry of the seventh game.

Seventh games are special because they are transcendant. A seventh game comes about when two teams have – over the course of six previous contests – demonstrated a degree of parity. They’ve traded blows, they’ve pulled out the stops, have employed every strategy and weapon to vanquish the other, only to emerge at this limbo of stalemate. Neither has been able to demonstrate clear superiority over the other.

And so, a seventh game is almost an acknowledgment that victory will take something more than mere skill, more than the employment of weapons. It will require something beyond the ordinary unfolding of things – luck or fate maybe, certainly heart and determination. A seventh game is rarely just a game. It invites something special. And that something special often turns up.

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