By Karen on Monday 7 September 2009, 01:59 - Permalink
I couldn't blog for a couple of days because I couldn't actually log into my blog; the problem is fixed now (not that I have a terribly clear understanding of what was wrong in the first place.) This sort of thing seems to happen to me much more often than the laws of probability would lead one to expect.
Every year, when the US Open is on TV, I get inspired to play tennis. It's the only sport where I both:
A)Understand what's going on
B)Care in the slightest
With professional sports, you have to be prepared to buy into the abstraction that where the ball goes actually matters on some level. With baseball, while I don't begrudge all of the people who enjoy it- and for that matter, more power to them- I just can't make myself care about whether the guy can get to the base before the ball does. The rules just seem so incredibly arbitrary that I can't really appreciate the skill on display. Sure, the guy who makes it to home plate may be a fast runner, but if I wanted to see running I could actually watch track and field instead. The pitcher may be fantastic, but if he hangs tough and the batters barely get any hits, it's dreadfully boring to watch.
I'm not going to try to argue that tennis is any less arbitrary, however I sense a certain elegance there that makes it possible for me to buy into the abstraction. It seems like a natural evolution of a game that people have been playing since the dawn of time as opposed to an incredibly complex game that someone made up, taking the concept of "move the ball around", and gilding the lily to a semi-ridiculous degree. Plus, I find the sensation of hitting a tennis ball to be more fun than that of dribbling a basketball or anything else of that nature. I can see why people would want to do a lot of it.
It makes such a satisfying *thwack* noise, too.
Despite my appreciation for pro tennis, I've never really learned how to play. Every time I try I'm upset by how bad I seem to be at it, mostly because I haven't learned how to play. I've only just realized that there's a way out of this diabolical, divide-by-zero sort of situation, because if I keep practicing, I probably will learn how to play at some point. There is something extremely odd about not learning until your mid-twenties something that most school children pick up in the third grade, especially when your academic career attests to above-average mental faculties. I don't think I'm stupid, but I think my smartness is of a more Savant-ish character than I had ever realized.
For the record, I also cannot tie my shoes properly or tell my left from my right without having to think about it. Seriously.