Let's start doing new stuff with balls
A couple weeks back, I went home to Cincinnati and spent half of the weekend playing with my four-year-old nephew, Alejandro. We invented a game which, in my head, was called “do shit to a bouncy ball while running around.” It was a really great game. We did lots of shit to that ball, and it was very fulfilling. At some point, me and my dad tried to get an actual organized game going, but Alejandro was having none of it. He was good at doing shit to the ball. He was not as good at doing specific shit to the ball. When there were expectations attached to the shit he had to do, he was not as big a fan of doing that shit.
I understand completely. I operate best in situations with absolutely zero expectations. Though I come from a long line of people who are very good at doing specific things to balls, I myself do not quite fit into that line. I played football, lacrosse, and wrestling (which, before you object, involved doing shit to balls in its own, very uncomfortable way) and I was atrocious at all of them. Alejandro was beating off that day when he would have to be judged on his ability in doing shit to balls by literally beating the bouncy ball into the ground with a wiffleball bat while screaming “NO!”
I do genuinely enjoy watching football. It is a great way to justify sitting and day-drinking for three and a half hours. But lately there’s been a lot of uproar around football. It turns out that even if you’re a big, muscly grown man, your body is still prone to the negative effects of constant physical trauma. It turns out that some institutions think that the sport is more important than the safety of children. It turns out that some institutions are willing to ignore domestic abuse unless it becomes a PR problem.
And at this point, you kinda wanna hammer the ball into the ground with a wiffleball bat and scream, “NO!” The sport is, after all, just another way of doing shit to a ball. And while the sport seems eternal right now, it was actually invented in 1869 in New Jersey. The world’s great game, soccer, was first played only six years before that. Baseball was started 25 years before that. Someone made up the rules to those games. Someone who probably used the word “knickerbocker” at least once in their life, and someone who thought that the lumps on your head could tell you your future.
Yes, there is a lump for “firmness.”
For whatever reason, the only games we really seem to play were all made up in the 19th Century, which is also the last century that Thomas Jefferson pooped in. Why is there a cut-off? Why are these new sports now too big to fail? They don’t matter at all.
Not that I’m saying that they don’t matter a great deal, but they matter in the way that music matters. It doesn’t matter so much what you play, it matters that you play. Just like music, sports are ways for us to take our internal thoughts and feelings and project them out on the world in fun and creative ways. People are capable of doing beautiful things when they play. Remember this?
That’s a man diving face first and knocking a ball into a net with said face. If that’s not art, then nothing is art. The sport around it doesn’t matter a goddamn bit.
And the sport in itself doesn’t have to be eternal. The organization in charge of the world of soccer is straight up evil. They’re currently allowing construction to continue for their 2022 World Cup even though hundreds of workers have died in horrible conditions. The World Cup is huge and important, but it’s not that huge and important. We could totally come up with another big worldwide party game. At the end of the day, soccer is still a game made up by posh Victorian wankers, and it’s no more or less special than any other game made up by anyone else ever.
We can make up new and better games. We can create new sports. We can find new ways to do shit to balls. When we’ve started to put kids, women, Native Americans, migrant workers in Qatar, residents of Brazilian favelas, and the physical well-being of our athletes behind the importance of the game, we’ve started to take the shit we do to balls too seriously.
Let’s do other shit to balls. We can figure out the rules later.
Featured Photo: Mila Araujo