There’s an article on Cricinfo this morning: What does it really mean to be Asia Cup champions? It’s a good question, and a good article, though mostly it talks about the history of the tournament, and what we might see this year, rather than actually answering the question in the headline.
But the question is a valid one, and one that could be applied to all tournaments, all series, all sports. Why do we watch? And what does it all mean?
The cynic will tell you it’s meaningless, that we are not fans, we are a product sold to advertisers. Cogs in a billion dollar machine designed solely to make money for autocrats and dictators. We dress up like kids on Halloween and cheer on mercenaries playing a game designed for children.
The cynic’s foil will tell you that people should find meaning and joy wherever they can. Be it the novels of Proust or a Seahawks game. They will see the fans of teams care with such passion that their hearts will double in size to see all that caring, an action that many feel is slowly leaving our world, replaced with the cynical constructs above. And they will tell people that sport is community, and community is sport. We rally around the home team at the local watering hole, and rally around whatever team we want on Twitter, making friends all over the world.
In truth, for most of us, it’s probably somewhere in the middle. We know we are a cog, but that’s fine, it’s our leisure time, let’s spend it at a pub with a beer and some friends. Sure, life is very short, but it’s also very long, and there’s plenty of time for pursuits that might bring more meaning — whatever that is — to our lives.
Honestly, though, can any of us really answer the question above with any real certainty? Do we know specifically why we watch, and what it all means? Why we live and die with our teams, and why we lose our shit when they lose, and why celebrate for hours when they win?
There’s a famous Noel Gallagher quote about what the words to “Champagne Supernova” mean. I can’t seem to track it down online, which means he probably never said it, but the gist of it was: people were always asking him what the lyrics meant, but he never had a good answer for them. Then one night they were playing the song in front of 60,000 people and he looks out and there’s a shirtless kid sitting on someone’s shoulders crying his eyes out and singing along to every word. “That’s what the fucking song’s about,” he concluded.
And, really, that’s how it is with sports. It’s that moment of pure joy, pure unexplainable joy. That’s what it’s about.
So to answer the question posed by Cricinfo’s copy editor:
This is what it really means to be Asia Cup champion: