Watching and commentary

I don’t watch much sports. Never have. I’ve been to an Aussie rules game, a one-day match, and stayed up all night to see Australia’s painful 1-0 loss to Italy in the 2006 World Cup. But I’ve never really understood the allure of watching professional sports, and always found myself wondering slightly quizzically about those who do.

Recently, though, I’ve started watching a slightly odd thing – I’ve been watching commentary on Total War: Warhammer videos. A quite large amount, although spread over several months.

David Foster Wallace writes about watching Federer as a religious experience; it’s one of the more insightful accounts I’ve read about watching tennis. But watching these videos isn’t quite about that. I’ve read A season with Verona, which is a fascinating account of a team on the cusp of dropping down a league, and worth reading. But even though that’s Tim Parks’ attempt to think about the community and connection involved in being a soccer fan, it’s not that.

I suppose it’s simply that good commentary can give you an appreciation for the complexity in what can otherwise look like an undifferentiated mass, and make it easy to see a story in the chaos. It’s fun, and mindless.


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