Last night while watching SUNY-Delhi's basketball team (19-2) outdistance a very strong team from Herkimer Community College (18-3), I was reading Paul Weiss's 1969 book, Sport: A Philosophical Inquiry (Southern Illinois UP). Weiss writes, "Because art and sport involve a controlled expression of emotions, making it possible for minds and bodies to be harmonized, clearly and intensely, they offer excellent agencies for unifying men" (39).
The book is written entirely about and for men, making its historical period rather clear (before Title IX).
As I sat there watching the young men on the court coast up and down fighting for control of the ball and making layups and not making 3-pointers, I thought about the difference between art and sport. Sport doesn't really attempt to make wider philosophical points with regard to life. It is simply a physical contest but also perhaps a spiritual contest. One player on the Herkimer team (#33), was holding their whole team together. He was scoring most of their points, and also getting the most assists and rebounds, but what was most remarkable was his spirit. It never broke. He retained equanimity throughout, and it was a joyful thing to watch to the extent that I admit I began to root for his team. In the closing seconds one member of his team (#24) flipped out, and cuffed a member of our team. The tie was then broken by two foul shots, and two technicals, which resulted in 3 points and sank Herkimer's chances. #33 remained stoic.
While there is philosophy inside of basketball, it doesn't itself express a philosophy. On the other hand, there is one very physically demanding art form: dance. My daughter says if ballet was ten times easier we would call it football. Recently she offered a dance recital having to do with Virginia Woolf's suicide (she walked into a lake on her property with stones in her pockets and drowned). Lola said she read that it was because Woolf feared she was losing her mind. I've also read that she feared a Nazi invasion (it was during WWII). Here is Lola's dance. She's only 13. I don't remember the name of the musicians who did the song about Woolf.