Andrew Minucci is a friend and one hell of a gift-giver, but that is not the point here.
Given the content of the last post, I've been thinking today about what popular sports say about and contribute to our popular culture. Where we stand on loving and hating our sports legends and icons, where we stand on tolerating their egos and outbursts, what we expect, what we forgive, what we forget, and what we remember, all say more about who we are than who they are. Tiger, Vick, Bonds*, Plaxico, Tyson, LeBron, and Arenas are people. Individual people. But let's be serious about this: They are not individual people to us. We expect something specific from our sportsmen that we don't expect from our other celebrities. We expect sportsmanship, on and off the field, court, ice, course, and ring.
Superficially, sport is about athletics rather than intellect. It is about muscular training, discipline, and reflex. It is corporeal. In many ways, this results in our expectation that it is moral, ideological, and quasi-religious. Think about it: Athletes, especially Olympians, are the utmost human specimens. If the Body is a Temple, our athletes are our high priests. (Just hours ago I wrote that the new Yankee Stadium is "Jeter's cathedral to sanctify.") While the intellectual and academic accomplishments produced by others seem outside of the grasp of most individuals, our athletes represent the bodily achievements of humanity. We all have bodies, and we know what our bodies can do. More importantly, our athletes play games with rules. They do amazing things not only within the confines of the same bodies we have, but within the parameters of what the referees allow.
And that is the problem with being a sports celebrity: The rules apply when you're not playing too. Sportsmanship and individual discipline matter in a very basic, clear-cut way. It's a question of morality, of right and wrong. Zidane is a hero not because he was a bad-ass in an important moment, but because he upheld our rules even when doing so was in direct conflict with the game's.
So, Andrew Minucci has a new blog. While he works for a professional sports team, this is not what his blog is about. If you read through what he's put out there thus far, you'll see that fairly quickly. What you'll read is someone who understands that professional sports reflect a certain and not unimportant portion of our collective humanity, that individual sportsmen are both individual people and representative of what we want for our individual selves, and that the cultural position held by their teams and organizations is a significant indicator for where we stand as a culture. If you want to read sports commentary as a way into cultural commentary, I offer you this: Where It Rolled Back.