20 June 2019

Highlights from 'Fever Pitch'

Hornby, Nick. Fever Pitch. Riverheard Books, 1992.

A personal background

My freshman year in college, I was oblivious to how much DLSU cared about — and dominated — men's basketball at the UAAP. That same year we won the championship, which I found out when I went to the campus ready to take my classes only to be sent back home because apparently, it was a holiday. What bullshit celebration, I said to myself using maybe another set of PG-13 words.

There was no escaping it. Everyone's watching and discussing the sport, so I ended up curious, catching some of the games, all of which bored me to death. We were always winning. I was always rooting for the other team, just for a glimmer of drama. Almost my entire college life was punctuated with a Men's Basketball Championship Holiday. Hurray.

Until we lost the title to ADMU in my senior year. (There's really something off about that Never shall we fail slogan.) It's not as if I wasn't aware of the rivalry, but I was made hyper-aware since that finals match. The insults — again, I had heard them before — came in relentless machine-gun speed. Everyone, from within and outside the institution, hated our players, hated our coaches, hated ourselves. And I felt personally attacked for something I didn't do, by mere association. Hey, I wasn't the one who missed the shot; why are you crucifying me!!!

Then I, goodness gracious, started to care.

But I do love sports in general. Or not. Stressful, emotionally draining stuff. What I know for certain is you can't be a sports fan if you don't have the heart to lose.

When I bought Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch over a decade ago, it was in hopes that it'll give me the wisdom and sense of humor to get through each UAAP and Tennis season. A few pages in, I realized that it was a football diary and I had zero knowledge and interest in football. Last March I picked it up again, despite my unimproved football IQ, confident that I'm a better, if more conscientious reader now. Well, the book brought me pleasure with a teeny ounce of pain.

Some underlined bits
Entertainment as pain was an idea entirely new to me, and it seemed to be something I'd been waiting for. (p 13)

I simply asked [my father], in an assumed spirit of idle curiosity, who he thought would win the game, and he said he thought Arsenal would, three or four nothing, the same as everyone else did, and so I got the reassurance I was looking for; but I was scared for life anyway. Like my mother's exclamation mark, my father's blithe confidence later seemed like a betrayal. (p 18)

I had discovered after the Swindon game that loyalty, at least in football terms, was not a moral choice like bravery or kindness; it was more like a wart or a hump, something you were stuck with. (p 27)

I have learned the value of investing time and emotion in things I cannot control, and of belonging to a community whose aspirations I share completely and uncritically. (p 62)

I like the thought of people remembering [emphasis mine] me on a regular basis. (p 186)

Sport and life, especially the arty life, are not exactly analogous. One of the great things about sport is its cruel clarity: there is no such thing, for example, as a bad one-hundred-metre runner, or a hopeless centre-half who got lucky; in sport, you get found out... There are, however, plenty of bad actors or musicians or writers making a decent living, people who happened to be in the right place at the right time, or knew the right people, or whose talents have been misunderstood or overestimated. (p 201)

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