Thursday, May 31, 2007

Go Sens Go (no really please just go ...)

My sister and I were bemoaning the ongoing television coverage of the Stanley Cup finals because in the late spring the CBC always preempts a certain British soap that she and I have been accustomed to watching for decades now in the evenings. And we get very ornery about not seeing it regularly. We are fairly bitter about it and still have not become accustomed to this.

"What is this sports hysteria about?!?" my sister exclaimed. It was a very dramatic outburst as we were both lying on her couch like two recumbent Scarlett O'Haras perspiring in the heat. We were recovering from a celebratory brunch (my sister has a new job) and a heat wave that was just starting in Hamilton that weekend. We were both overdressed for the weather and extremely grumpy. "I totally don't get it," she fumed.

We launched excitedly into this discussion: neither of us are sports enthusiasts and never have been, being more in the culture vulture/bookworm category; hence, our ongoing puzzlement regarding the Canadian passion for hockey or anything vaguely athletic. She started talking about an Iranian film called Offside in which a number of young Iranian girls are so desperate to play soccer that they disguise themselves as boys. That didn't puzzle my sister so much as the fanatical devotion to the Iranian soccer team and the country which has oppressed these girls. That was mystifying ... their devotion to the sport of soccer trumped their justified anger and resentment at the restrictions that their country had imposed on them.

What is at the root this emotion? I'm convinced that it (fanatical devotion to anything) is just another conduit for religious fervor. How else to explain the rabid devotion of some to vegetarianism, cycling, Madonna (the singer not the Virgin), the Toronto Maple Leafs, personal fitness, fashion, golf, science, music, blogging? As human beings I think we have this inherent need to powerfully believe in something, anything, and devote ourselves to it, sometimes in a cult-like, slavish fashion.

I remember when I witheringly commented on the fact that an acquaintance of my partner's had a painting, not a photograph but a painting, of the hockey player Frank Mahovlich at his home. "A painting of Frank Mahovolich? What is he a saint or something?" I snickered. I fully expected him to agree with me.

"Well why not?" he argued. "How is that so different than that photograph of Virginia Woolf you have above your writing desk?"

"Yes but - yes but -" I sputtered. Come on, Frank Mahovlich?

But really is it so different? What is that weird fixation I have on British writers which I mentioned in my blog on May 28th? Is it better than thinking about the Leafs 24/7 or wholeheartedly buying into Amway or holistic medicine?

And as a lapsed Catholic I know that some things stay with you forever.

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