By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) So Elliott Serrano, that geek who writes the “Geek to Me” column about geekiness over at the Redeye thinks Star Wars is better than sports. Apparently geeks can also be fools. Serrano is not only a fool for having an opinion that is so astoundingly wrong, but also because he asked me to compose a counterpoint. Poor guy.
Let’s do this. First, to debunk his five assertions.
“5. Star Wars has no season.” No piece of art has a season. Not a film, a book, a painting, or a song. Art is everlasting, constant. This is much the reason all art is supposed to be referred to in the present tense and not the past tense. “Star Wars is…” “Shakespeare’s Romeo is the first emo kid because…” That said, we don’t consume any piece of art daily and perpetually, at least not the sane among us.
Entertainment outlets must have times of absence in order for our hearts to grow fonder. Most fans will tell you that come September they are “baseballed out” (particularly Cubs fans), or in June they need a break from hockey or basketball. To everything there is a season, mind you. Without an end and rebirth there can be no real appreciation.
Someone who must take in a sport or a film or a book every single day is likely mentally ill. Look at Mark David Chapman, for instance. He believed he was living inside the novel Catcher in the Rye, not unlike those who don Storm Trooper outfits or believe in The Force.
Congratulations, Elliott. You advocate the killing of social icons.
“4. Star Wars comes with cooler stuff.” You mention “toys, video games, and countless collectibles.” Does the phrase “First 10,000 fans receive…” mean anything to you? Sports memorabilia is almost as popular as sports themselves. Once a month some fool spends tens of thousands of dollars on a baseball card. What player will grace the cover of the newest Madden video game is waited for with baited breath by fans and media alike, and grown-ass men treat the night before the release of the newest Madden or NCAA or NHL or Tiger Woods like five-year olds on Christmas Eve.
300 lb. slobs happily wear on their backs the names and numbers of gladiators. People die annually over Michael Jordan’s shoes, and not just the Asian kids making them.
Oh yeah, and giant bleeping nacho helmets. And I won’t even go into minor league ballpark food.
“3. Star Wars fans have better community.” I agree that most sports fans are detestable excuses for people. And I might have even conceded the better community thing had you not made one fatal error. “Nobody loses in Star Wars.”
I’ll just let Triumph the Insult Comic Dog show you why that statement is so, so wrong.
“2. Star Wars welcomes women.” If sports are so gender-exclusive, that whole frenzy of the women’s gymnastics and soccer teams a few weeks ago was what then?
Sexism abounds in all facets of life—that’s just an unfortunate fact. But getting a snide remark if you were to call a show on 670 The Score and ask about the Chicago Sky isn’t so much sexism as it is logic. Logic in that the WNBA isn’t cared about by a large enough number of people to warrant discussion on Chicago’s best sports radio station. Let’s say that Jason Goff wants to talk WNBA on a show he’s hosting—and by golly we know he does. How would Program Director Mitch Rosen feel about 95 percent of the audience flipping stations immediately upon hearing mention of it?
The NBA has a female ref. The NFL used one in a preseason game this year for the first time ever. Female announcers have begun calling televised football games. I really thought Kathy Ireland’s groundbreaking role in the socially impactful film Necessary Roughness put an end to all this sexism talk if Goldie Hawn’s Wildcats hadn’t already, but okay.
Women have long been welcome in sports. That’s why we have ESPN2.
“1. Star Wars is more inspirational than sports.” You did not just go there.
The inspiration Star Wars may have given doesn’t even equate to the tip of the iceberg of sports inspiration. The speeches of Gehrig, Rockne, Valvano, and others are etched in American culture, referenced countless times outside the sports world. And those are just the real ones.
Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday. Kurt Russell in Miracle. Gene Hackman in Hoosiers. No monologue in your space flicks holds a light saber to these and many others.
Star Wars inspired you to be a writer? Funny, sports did so for me. I was scolded countless times by my dad for hiding the sports section from him so it wouldn’t be “bathroomed.” I had to get my fix of Bernie Lincicome and Steve Rosenbloom and Mike Downey and Fred Mitchell and Melissa Isaacson and Bob Sakamoto as a lad (you can tell that we subscribed to the Tribune). The mandatory daily book reading my mom, a teacher, required of me during summers away from school mostly involved the novels of Matt Christopher, even the ones about sports I didn’t care for.
I’m sure you and other kids found a role model in Luke Skywalker or Han Solo or that effeminate robot. But millions of youngsters watch athletes on the field and off and think to themselves, “I want to be like him”—even if athletes should take a back seat to parents/guardians as role models. Hell, I still want to be Rod Beck—the alive version. Sports created more laughter, pride, tears, anger, and joy just yesterday than the Star Wars series has since George Lucas first put pen to paper in his parents’ basement.
Now that Elliott Serrano’s reasons have been torn to shreds, I bring you my own reasons that sports are undeniably superior to Star Wars.
- Star Wars has its theme and “The Imperial March.” Those are two awesome, classic tunes. (And, really, what by composer John Williams isn’t?) But that’s all it has of any noteworthiness.
Sports has five volumes of Jock Jams and three volumes of Jock Rock, son. Find a runner or cyclist or, God forbid, a rollerblader out on the street without an iPod helping fuel him/her. Teams attach themselves to songs or even have songs written for them by respected musicians. Sure, some are unbearably awful, but music has come to have a symbiotic relationship with sports in a sense. When was the last time someone bought a film soundtrack?
- Being good at sports often gets you chicks, which is not something I find all that fair to otherwise fantastic guys like myself, and I have little respect for jersey chasers. Being versed in all things Tatooine probably will not register with the lady you meet at the bar.
- Nobody can ever connect to “the real thing” when it comes to Star Wars. You can play dress up and buy your toys and speak Wookie all you want, but at the end of the day, it’s pure and total fantasy. We need fantasy—it helps keep us from going insane from reality. I appreciate the parable of the Star Wars series, the symbolism and the Biblical parallels and the how the narrative applies to real life. As an English teacher, that stuff is right up my alley. But just as Fahrenheit 451 and Brave New World and Julius Caesar teach lessons about real life, we can’t touch those characters, and we can’t speak to them.
Athletes, while superheroes to many, are still very much flesh and blood. There’s no suspending belief, no fourth wall to be broken. A kid getting an autograph from Derrick Rose is getting it from the Derrick Rose. A kid getting an autograph from Princess Leia is getting it from a drunk, bloated, sarcastic Carrie Fischer whom NOBODY wants to see in a gold bikini.
- Star Wars has its own special annual conventions where fans travel and converge and nerd it up with each other, and that’s fine. What are the conventions for sports? Games. Pretty much every day and night of the year. And even teams have their own actual unfortunate offseason fan gatherings.
- Star Wars doesn’t have 24-hour TV networks dedicated to it. There might be some talk show on satellite radio about it somewhere, but it doesn’t dominate local airwaves during morning commutes. It’s not immediate conversation at the proverbial water cooler.
- Being a sports fan comes with no social stigma, and sports are socially relevant. Who gets a scholarship for being skilled with a light saber? No one tells his/her parents, “Mom and Dad, I want to major in Sithe journalism.”
Has Lando Calrissian ever been celebrated as a prominent African American (or African Cloud Citian? I don’t even know) business owner? Are abused Ewoks shown in soft lit ads with Sarah McLachlan music depressing the crap out of you?
Being a fan of Star Wars is fine and cheesy and harmless. Being a sports fan is natural, not supernatural. It’s feeding one’s soul, soothing the primal urge for the satisfaction of competition and the identity with superiority (yes, I just said that as a Cubs fan).
There’s really just no comparison, Elliott Serrano. Your people are kitschy, a pop culture quirk. Your love is a sideshow, even a promotional thingy used within sports as you pointed out happening at U.S. Cellular Field the other night. Sports are culture.
You need to accept that and come on over to the Dark Side.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget, but please don’t follow him in real life. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.