The Meaning of Sport

“That, I think, is what sport is all about. If you follow a sport it becomes a thread which runs through your life and provides memories and narrative and meaning and context. Sport becomes a kind of companion, part of the richness and texture of lived experience. At the same time, you could argue that sport is the only thing on television that is real. The things you are watching happen are actually happening right now, as you watch. So much modern reality is mediated, packaged, predigested. This is obviously true for all forms of drama, but it is more subtly true of news and current affairs, where the effects can be more pernicious, because we’re seeing an image of the world which makes claim to be the real world. Sport isn’t like that. It is clearly artificial: it happens within a determined frame and a clear set of rules and in that sense is as mediated as human experience can be. But within that frame, when you’re watching live sport, you are watching reality as it really happens.”

—John Lanchester, “Getting Into Esports.” London Review of Books. August 13, 2020.