For my write-up today on Stephen Ambrose's Nixon: The Education of a Politician, I'd like to feature something that Ambrose says on pages 456-457:
continued to read the sports page avidly, and with that marvelous
memory of his he absorbed all the numbers. Batting averages, yards
gained per carry, earned run averages, pass completion percentage, the
whole never-ended stream of numbers was to Nixon what the Western novels
were to Eisenhower, the perfect relaxation. Through the sports pages,
Nixon could escape to a world in which there were no moral qualms and no
one's motives were ever questioned. In addition, Nixon, like millions
of his fellow countrymen, was a hero-worshiper, standing in awe of those
who could do so well what he could never do at all, playing games for a
living, testing themselves daily in the arena."
myself am not a sports fan, and I am puzzled when people argue
vehemently about games that, to me, are of little or no consequence. I
suppose that there have been a few times when I could identify with
sports fans, though----with their interest in the drama that accompanies
some games, especially when an underdog is posing a serious challenge
to the reigning teams. As much as I dislike sports, I love the movies Hoosiers and Rocky.
doubt that I would have bonded with Nixon had I met him because he
loved sports, whereas I do not. I usually have nothing to contribute
when I'm in a group of people who are discussing sports. And, when I
try to do research on sports in order to contribute something to the
conversation, I often come across as someone who has no idea what he's
talking about! I can't fake loving something that I do not love.
sports fans love to educate people who know little about sports. They
like to tell the less-informed what is going on, get into strategy,
etc. And that can be interesting. Being an audience to that can allow
me to form a bond with another human being. But, in a number of
settings, people who are learned about sports prefer to talk about
sports with others who are learned about sports. I suppose that there
are times when many of us enjoy teaching people who do not know much
about our fields, but there are other times when we'd like to go beyond
the basics and talk with people who know as much as, or more than, we
I could identify with Nixon seeking a
refuge in sports. I myself don't seek refuge in sports, but I can
understand Nixon seeing sports as a place where people's motives are not
scrutinized. One problem that I have with social situations is that I
feel that my motives are scrutinized or judged, and I scrutinize and
judge others. It makes sense, therefore, that people would bond over
sports, in which human motives are not as much of an issue.
Unfortunately, my interests, politics and religion, have a solid human
element, and so talking about those things with people can tend to
alienate them from me (or me from them), rather than allowing me to bond
with them (depending on whether or not they share my beliefs).
Three cheers for the eternal torture chamber!
2 hours ago