John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton
jheaton

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Don McLean's "Vincent" just came on the radio, which reminded me that I wanted to post a link to a McSweeney's article I read earlier today. It gives away the joke in the very first sentence, but manages to remain funny throughout. Go read it: Beyond "American Pie:" Interpreting Symbolism and Allegory in the Other Songs of Don McLean.

The article reminds me of last week's episode of Gilmore Girls, which revolved around the annual Harvard/Yale football game. Early in the episode, Rory, currently a freshman at Yale, is baffled when her grandfather and one of her roommates strike up a conversation about "the Game." Not only did she not know what the Game was, she didn't know it was being played that weekend at Yale.

I commented on that scene in the TWoP Gilmore Girls forum, suggesting that while it was not out of character for Rory to be so spectacularly clueless about what's going on around her, it was kind of pathetic and sad. Other posters defended her, saying that Rory just wasn't interested in sports, so naturally she would ignore anything around her having to do with sports, such as the Harvard/Yale football game.

Which is a load of horseshit. Intelligent, well-rounded people know what's going on around them, even the stuff that they find uninteresting. And that includes sports. Millions of people watch or participate in sporting events every day. Allusions to sports abound in literature, in TV shows, in news articles otherwise unrelated to sports, and in everyday speech. Like it or not, sports is a big part of American culture, and you can't just pretend it isn't.

Everyone should have a basic understanding of the major sports (which to my way of thinking includes American football, soccer, baseball, basketball, hockey, golf, tennis, and auto racing) and be able to identify some of the major figures and events within each one. You don't need to know what the Mendoza line is, or what play people are talking about when they talk about "the Play," but you should know what the World Series is. You don't need to know the five ways you can reach first base without a hit, but should know what happens when you get three strikes, or when you hit a home run. You should know who Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Jackie Robinson, and Mickey Mantle are. And you should know what sport I'm talking about in all of the examples I just mentioned.

In my opinion, that kind of basic knowledge about sports is a part of being culturally literate.
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  • My tweets

    Sat, 17:03: As good a reason as any to share my favorite Harry Potter/Community crossover fic. https://t.co/9yxzjW7ABG…

  • My tweets

    Fri, 18:10: Did I hear correctly that tonight's @ 1055triplem #FridayNightFlashback is to 2003? They just did 2003 not even three full months…

  • My tweets

    Thu, 18:50: If you enjoy clownishly incompetent lawyers getting smacked down by judges, this livetweet thread is a must read.…