October 03, 2009

So, we've got that going for us

Simon Kuper in today's FT:

Even Navratilova could not win in singles after 40. If she lost her oomph, then the rest of us have no chance. Yet there is one thing in sport that probably does improve after 40: fandom.

It works something like this. Life is confusing and full of loss. You leave places, people die, and your own body changes so much that eventually it might as well belong to a different person. A rare constant in life, something that can stay with you from pre-school to grave, is often the sport that you follow. Rogan Taylor, scholar of football at Liverpool University, says that just as pre-industrial villagers marked the passing of time through agricultural seasons, urbanites use sports seasons. Every late summer the football season starts, as regular as the harvest. Or, as Nick Hornby wrote in his fan's memoir, Fever Pitch : "I have measured out my life in football matches."


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