Well, it has certainly been some week in the world. As we charge further down an uncertain path (or follow the darkest timeline where the Timberwolves success comes at a great cost), I often think about this article that Andrew Sharp wrote for Sports Illustrated about how the NBA has served as an escape from the real world that seeks to pervade all of our senses, consume all of our attention, at all times.
It does not seem as if human beings were ever supposed to be able to handle this much input of information at one time. We become easily overloaded and unable to comprehend the amount of stress and anxiety of our always connected world. To add on to that all, well.
It becomes fair to ask the question of why do we care about frivolous things like the NBA? What value is this really providing to the world at large? How much time do we spend wasting debating if Player X is better than Player Y, if Andrew Wiggins deserves a max contract vs a slightly smaller contract, or if the new jerseys really capture the “feel” of a team?
Are we just burying our heads in the sands of banality and excess? Drowning our existential crisis in the vacuous celebrity culture of sports? Distracting our brain space from our surroundings by delving into the nuances of RPM vs BPM?
It is, after all, just a game. Pure escapism.
Well, first of all, the comment section of this site, in particular, would serve as a strong argument against these charges, as it not often that one finds real conversation and communication in the recesses of the Internet. Even on NBA Reddit, one can find surprisingly nuanced conversations, which is quite extraordinary on a site that is well-known for anything but.
However, I think that the true solace that I, at least personally, take from the NBA, and sports in general, is that they serve as a common ground for human connection in a world that seems determined to create as many strong divisions between ourselves as possible. Our entertainment and information have become fractured and locked in silos. That which once provided cohesion now promotes anything but.
Regardless of the context of which I am in, I know that I at least can find a conversation topic with friends, family, co-workers, or people that I meet in the world on the topic of sports, or with many, the NBA in particular. It becomes easy to allow that topic to guide the flow of communication, to drift into the easier discussions of how we perceive various offseason moves. For myself, this is often the topic of conversation that allows me to keep in touch with friends who I would be lucky to see in-person more than once a year. We still have the Timberwolves, or the NBA, to talk about.
That is not necessarily a great answer for why we should allow ourselves to devote so much of our time and brain space to this game. But in a world where we are increasingly divided into “teams,” it seems fair to embrace one of the last few elements of our lives in which we actually care about teams. After all, the foundation for climbing over the “empathy wall” has to start somewhere.