Friday, February 08, 2008

Sartre and Fandom (Friday Blizzard)

Aaron Schatz, Free Darko, and "The Flies"

At Football Outsiders, Aaron Schatz writes about loving football, and tries to emphasize that there's more to a football season than it's champion. We can appreciate other successes too.

At Free Darko, there's a lot of talk about "liberated fandom," how we are not bound to root for our geographical teams, and our freedom allows us to root for whichever players or teams move our souls.

I enjoy the perspective both Schatz and the madmen at Free Darko offer us. But I don't quite feel that freedom.

In Jean-Paul Sartre's play "The Flies," the people of Argos are trapped by their own guilt and sense of tragedy: they are unaware of their own freedom, dooming themselves to their own tragic lives. And Orestes comes speaking of freedom.

I feel like a Viking fan trapped in Argos, swarmed by flies and by fears of the dead. It's nice that Orestes can tell me I can be free of it all, but I also know that the only way I could be free is to abandon sports altogether, to embrace my freedom by no longer tying my state of being to the performances of people beyond my control. And so I'm stuck here, waiting. Perhaps like Electra, waiting all that time for Orestes to come (though to fulfill the tragedy more than rescue her from it).

Oh, I'm deeply moved by Orestes' words about human freedom. But as long as I'm a Viking fan, and until the Vikings win a championship, I feel much more like the sorry lot in Argos. I'm bound to the Vikings, and the zero championships for the team, like the flies, swarms over my soul.

Though perhaps Orestes is a better metaphor for February

From September through January, it sometimes feels like the real week is just six days long; Sunday, generally, is entirely sucked up by football. When football isn't on, we're waiting for football. When football is over, we're still thinking about football. It's not that we really want to escape that, but at the same time it's a bit burdensome.

Then comes February and its entirely open weekends. A Friday night, an entire Saturday, and an entire Sunday for the other things that we generally call life.

David Tyree's catch

There's one camera angle (it's the second photo in this Nosebleeds post) that shows David Tyree pinning the ball to his helmet, and in between the little circle formed by arm/helmet/ball is Rodney Harrison's arm. So Tyree is pinning the ball to his helmet with one arm/hand, while Harrison has his arm clawing in the middle. Then Tyree falls pretty far to the ground, on his back, but still holds the ball.

Another good angle comes at this Ballers, Gamers, and Scoundrels post, where it appears Tyree is using just his fingers to pin the ball to his helmet.

Already crippled by fantasy
Lately I've been imagining all sorts of wild scenarios for the Vikings. The 2008 off-season is upon us, my friends. Now is the season of hope.

Sports Law Blog asks if there is a difference between cock fighting and dog fighting.

Addendum #2
At Epic Carnival, wwtb? points out the two teams that weren't embarrassed to go 18-1.


  1. I've been reading this blog religiously for about 3/4 of a year now and I continue to love your writing. The fact that you allow classic works of literature to serve as apt analogies for sport and especially Viking fandom is amazing.

    I particularly love the occurring references to Dovstoyesky.

    Props on the excellent posts and thanks for allow the academy and the sports blogosphere to intersect.

  2. PV - Its, it's... tsk, tsk.

    Great post, as always, though!

  3. Anonymous11:50 AM


    As a contributor to this blog, I was curious. How does a student from Asbury Theological Seminary happen upon a blog largely dedicated to the Minnesota Vikings?

    Just curious. Thanks for reading.

  4. Holy Hitter,

    I've been a Vikings fan all my life even though I grew up in rural north western PA. I was, however, blessed enough to live in Duluth, MN last summer working for a short term youth mission agency. Sadly, other than a few short visits, that is as close as I've been to the Holyland.

    But to more accurately answer your question, I think when I stumbled across the blog either via deadspin or another site and this quickly became my favorite Viking's blog.

  5. Where does UCLA fit into all of this?

  6. Anonymous1:45 PM


    So being at Asbury, do you happen to be Methodist?

    Just curious. I just graduated from Duke Divinity School in May.

  7. Anonymous1:47 PM

    the difference between cock fighting and dog fighting is that chicken tastes better.


  8. Anonymous2:54 PM

    Not if you stick to puppies and marinate them for a while...

  9. Holy Hitter,

    I'm actually "between" denominations right now. I currently attend an Orthodox Church but grew up C&MA and attended a Wesleyan college. Sounds fun, but not a good spot in which to be when one graduates in May.

    I do have some methodist leanings though.

  10. Anonymous1:36 AM


    There are a few Asbury Grads up here in Minnesota working for the Methodist church. We are always looking for young clergy. You should check it out. Of course under the current United Methodist system you would be a local pastor for at least 2 years then a probationary elder for 3 years and then ordained...So only about 6 years till ordination.

  11. Anonymous1:09 AM

    It's unfortunate that Aaron decided to save that column until after Super Bowl XLII, as if saying "Please don't mock me for saying the Giants were the worst team ever to make the Super Bowl"

  12. Ha ha. Thanks for the info Holy Hitter.

    I've actually considered sending my resume to a couple places up there. I fell in love with the region after working for youthworks in Duluth and figured I might as well see what options lie north.

    Plus, then I at least get to see the Vikes on tv instead of the Bengals and the Browns.