Robin, Alvy Singer’s second wife in Annie Hall, never understood why he cared so much about sports. “What is so fascinating about a group of pituitary cases trying to stuff a ball through a hoop?” she famously asked. She only got one scene in the movie. Woody knew she had no idea what she was talking about.
People who don’t care to understand sports don’t care to understand about life. Sports is a never-ending tragicomedy that refreshes itself daily. It’s about spectacle. It’s about power. It’s about vanity. It’s about ego. It’s about triumph. It’s about the ludicrousness of thinking you personally have control over anything. It’s about a game being entirely irrelevant, yet making you believe at times that nothing else on earth could possibly matter. In other words: It’s about New York.
Here, when you succeed, the spoils are grander than anywhere else, and when you lose, you lose spectacularly. Either way: You are never forgotten.
When Clay Felker, New York’s founder, died last June, Kurt Andersen wrote in this magazine:
When I learned that [Felker’s] father ran The Sporting News, and that young Clay’s first magazine jobs were covering sports for Life and working with the team that created Sports Illustrated, I had an aha moment: His founding inspiration was to cover the scrum and spectacle of urban life as if it were sport of the most interesting possible kind, the city (or anyway the lower two-thirds of Manhattan) as postmodern gladiatorial coliseum, complete with colorful play-by-play and the latest stats and rankings.
We’re starting this new blog here, The Sports Section, as a piece of that longtime New York tradition, with the notion that everything is just one big play for power and prestige and glory, and sports are the only venue polite enough to keep definitive score. Championships, torn ACLs, club shootings, terrifying glimpses of John Sterling on the hypnotic HD screen at Yankee Stadium, the isolated and powerful New York press corps, the new trains to the Meadowlands, the $10 Bud Lights … we’re going to try to cover it all. The experience of being a sports fan in New York is unlike the experience anywhere else. That’s what we’re trying to chronicle.
We won’t be entirely Gotham-focused, either; far be it from us to ignore boxers who drink their own urine. Most of the time, sports are completely ridiculous. That’s another reason we love them.
To the particulars: The site will be updated at least four times a day, often more, particularly during playoff season when the hometown nine happen to be crushing opponents with numbing efficiency. The two primary writers are Will Leitch, a contributing editor at the magazine and founder of sports blog Deadspin, and Joe DeLessio, assistant editor at nymag.com. Leitch has lived in New York for a decade but is a Midwesterner — a “permanent tourist,” if you will — at heart, and has made no secret of his intense love for the St. Louis Cardinals, the Arizona Cardinals, and University of Illinois men’s basketball. (He’s a Knicks fan, at least.) DeLessio was born and raised in Queens but mostly lived in the upper deck of Yankee Stadium and in the rickety bleachers of Fordham’s Rose Hill Gymnasium. The Sports Section will also feature regular work from New York’s vast stable of writers and reporters, and — if you have something you desire to contribute — you, the reader. (It helps if you e-mail us at email@example.com. We can’t hear if you yell at the screen, not that it should stop you from trying.)
So lay about for a while, play around with us, and tell us what you think. We’re entering the most exciting four sporting months of the year: The Yankees are destroying all in their path, a tiny teen from Georgia is setting Flushing aflame, and the handsome rookie Jets quarterback is shiny and new and pretty and has done nothing wrong yet. It’s gonna be awesome. Join us, won’t you?