March 9, 2009

Why I Love Sam Pickering

Yesterday I was just getting started on a damn fine rant rant about how newspapers keep laying off the important people -- journalists who cover finance, science, and the environment -- while hanging on to the sports and celebrity reporters.

At the same time I was reading Sam Pickering's Letters to a Teacher, a 2004 collection of his essays about teaching, and came upon this statement:

"In truth sports are popular because they are trivial."

It's hard to rant well after that. The triviality of sports and also of celebrity coverage is their real power. They don't matter. Everybody knows they don't matter. Even the people who can recite statistics about every baseball team or recall the outcome of every Super Bowl game or remember when Eddie left Debbie for Liz or the day Britney and K-Fed split -- those people are lodging their attention and emotion in things that don't matter because putting attention and emotion into the things that do are too taxing. They might stir up things better left unacknowledged or unaddressed. They might bring about change, and who knows what will happen then? But sports? We know the score there. Literally, we know the score; and some days that's enough to know.

Do you follow sports or celebrities? If so, how do you perceive their role in your life? If not, what allows you relief from the stresses and vagaries of real life? Where is your safe hiding place?

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