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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Less Sport, More Art...

My struggle lasted over five years. I still wanted to believe in some obscure part of it, some unblemished, pure aspect of it all. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a single redeemable quality, the elusive... how do you say?... faith of it all. I gave up professional sports earlier this year for good, unconditionally, unequivocally, without remorse or reservation. The fact that I rooted for major teams such as Real Madrid and the New York Yankees put me in some sort of bracket--an unspoken, ugly characteristic no one wants to own up to but has to because it is part and parcel of his or her being. I am talking about appreciating the "money-can-buy-everything" attitude... the "you-owe-me-because-I am-a-great-sport-star" attitude... $10 million a year to play basketball? Please... I don't want to be part of it--in no way, shape or form.

Of course, I have to take into account the allegorical value of sports as a manifestation of human excellence, the triumph of the human spirit, etc. Yet, there seems to be a major deficiency of that triumph even at the college level and Olympic sports. As with everything else, we've become more commercialized, "technologized," and "financialized." With sports' scholarships in NCAA Division I running in the hundred of thousands, even amateurs are given to the luxury of sports. Recently, "The Cleveland Plain Dealer" ran an article dealing with the increase of poverty and foreclosures of homes in the Cuyahoga county. The page facing the one that ran the article was about "The Cleveland Auto Show," and about how a certain basketball star had "several" of his privately own cars on display at the show. One of the automobiles was valued at over $400,000. Now, of course there are people who would say that I am far too idealistic to make such an observation. I am by no means "generally liberal" in my social views, but the fact that no one bothered with running the articles facing each other across the page cannot be simply ignored as an oversight of judgment.

Yesterday I spent most of the day reading "The Aeneid." I see Aeneas very much the same way I see Achilles, warriors of the working-day. There are a few passages that I have underlined because they speak of the "Warrior Mind" in my own experience. Being part of the whole history of the United States Marine Corps--the tradition, the excellence in combat, the unbending code of honor--makes me feel like I am part of the human history of conflict. While I have come a long, long way from all of that, there's still a part of me that identifies with the flight from Troy, the courage of Priam, the stoicism of Aeneas, etc. I am a Marine, I've always been--from the moment I was born--and the fact that time and dust have taken me miles away from the "Warrior Mind," doesn't stop me from making all the connections to the struggles of Aeneas and the rest of his troops. It makes me think of "Jarhead" by Anthony Swofford. "Jarhead" is an admirable book, and it does depict the "Warrior Mind" accurately enough, but the book is a personal account and has more to do about Swofford than the Marine Corps. There are, however, some fine passages, and I will be writing about them tomorrow when I begin to examine quotes from "The Aeneid." See you then.

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