Good Sport

There’s nothing I can say in my defense so I won’t bother defending this thing I’m about to write. From the first moment to the last, the video was wretched, just one aural atrocity after another; one rabid sports fan after another spewing bile and gutter witticisms—the most absurd, hateful language anyone should have to endure, all because a team was letting them down. Letting me down also, I should add. I was no different. I was laughing my head off afterwards, thinking the vitriol was inspired. Burning my ears? Not exactly. That center forward: yeah, my grandmother could kick a ball better than he can. As for that goalie, I wouldn’t trust him to sit the right way on a toilet. He’s a disgrace. Has no business putting on the shirt, never mind kissing the badge of the tribe. Actually, now that I look at it—now that I say it out loud—I think I’m a disgrace. Acting like this, really? Barking at a television at six o’clock in the morning, then binging on post-game you tube commentary like a hypnotized adolescent. I don’t feel good about myself. It’s like I’ve sat up too late, slept in until noon, eaten too much sugar, not cleaned my teeth or brushed my hair. I feel all of that, earnestly, unhypocritically, impressively, for almost a minute. I’m into the freaks next, letting them carry my ball. The internet trolls: they’re much worse than me, I figure. They’re shameless, though they feel nothing but shame, have less to live for. They can’t possibly feel shame properly, looking and acting like they do; not as they film themselves frothing at the mouth, purging everything that hurts, contorting their faces, willing to get ugly for theirs and my evacuative pleasure. They’re doin’ it for me with this undressing they do. I’m living vicariously and I can match their deflation, if not their intensity.

And I can’t tear myself away from them. It’s over an hour now since the match finished and still I’m bathing in this aftermath of self-loathing and flagellation, just zoning out on chipped memories, how I wish things were like they used to be. The internet freaks are speaking for me, and not. I’m rolling with their mood swings, gazing back at their broken faces, just voyeuring their loss now. I’m starting to bristle at the unfairness, though. Through them I’m acting out some fantasy of unedited speech, unfettered rage—the license that lives far away from polite company, in an underground space during off hours. But one guy, the funniest one, is getting on my nerves calling out the right winger. Yes, the guy shouldn’t have been chosen to take that penalty. The number 9 should’ve taken it, no doubt. But spitting out that he should be sold the next morning, that we should never have signed him; that we should put him on a boat back to Brazil ASAP—that’s all a bit harsh. I’m glad I don’t play this game anymore. Glad I just watch, not that that’s much less toxic or exhausting. After all, it’s 9am and I’ve already ruined my Saturday with this bilious ritual. Soon I’ll be tired, need to go back to bed, feeling like I did as a kid, when it was time to stop playing and actually wanted to stop but couldn’t, or wouldn’t mostly because someone else wanted me to stop, needed me to stop. These days I can leave my toys on the playground, leave a mess that I can clean up later cuz there’s no one to step up and turn off my TV, that wretched monitor, and point me elsewhere to go do something worthwhile like reading a Bion paper for something like the 50th time. Still, it’s a good thing no one will see me like this. It’s a good job no one will know.

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