Great and Glorious Games


Being a typically provincial American, I lack the breadth of experience to adequately address Alex Massie's claim that the glories of baseball are eclipsed by the perfection that is cricket. In defense of my limited horizons, I would only say that Americans’ provincial attitude toward sports has less to do with our philistinism than with our glut of home-grown, big-time sports. The United States has not one but three national games, two of them wildly popular in their collegiate as well as professional varieties, plus a kitchen sink’s worth of popular alternatives to the football-baseball-basketball trifecta, from hockey and horse racing to boxing and tennis; meanwhile, we’re constantly being hectored by internationalist goo-goo types to support our local soccer league as well. And then of course there are the Olympics, when we’re supposed to feign interest in a slew of contests that nobody find remotely interesting if their nation’s honor weren’t at stake.

All of which is to say that while I’d love to immerse myself in cricket – if nothing else, it would enable me to appreciate the greatest sports book ever written – as it stands I can barely keep up with the sports that I followed obsessively as a kid. In high school, I was fanatical about college basketball, baseball, and football; in college, the first of these dropped off my radar screen somewhat (too many teams, not enough time); and now that I’m a half-decade deep in adulthood my football IQ has dropped to a point where I had to turn down a chance to write a piece about about the Patriots this winter – something I would have killed to do years back – because I simply wasn’t following their season closely enough. Maybe once I’m retired I’ll finally have time to learn enough about bowlers and wickets to judge whether Massie’s making sense or full of it, but until then I have to plead ignorance and duck the argument.

Photo by Flickr user Pandiyan used under a Creative Commons license.