Idle Hobby

Dear J-

Marian Hossa is playing for the Stanley Cup for the third straight season; whether or not the third time’s a charm for him has yet to be seen, but he’s off to a decent start for a guy who’s played the maximum number of games three years running — no one’s questioning his legs. The only questions may be about his mercenary nature — it’s his third team in three years. If you’re also a Survivor fan, you know about the self-proclaimed greatest player ever, Russell. He calls himself that because he’s gotten to the final pool, where a jury of his peers selects the winner, two seasons in a row. To get there he scrambles and stabs and generally plays a scorched-earth game that leaves no room for sympathetic peers who’d vote for him — indeed, he was shut out of the votes this last go-round.

There’s no denying that Russell is a canny player who can outplay his peers in straight-up competition, but doing it in a way that leaves people smiling, not scowling — that’s the real trick. It’s not easy to compete at the highest level, but there’s a skillful way to do it versus blundering your way through like a rhino. It’s impossible for me to say if Marian Hossa’s teammates feel the same way — such is the nature of free agency and modern sports that you can’t exactly fault a professional athlete for seeking what works best for their professional career — but I can certainly see how they might feel betrayed if he keeps moving on year after year in his quest to finally hoist a Cup. If karma is any indication (or at least precedent) then I’d say the Flyers have a Cinderella date with destiny this year.

It’s funny that we’d even try to impose the same values we carry in life on games — television reality shows or athletic contests. There’s a whole different set of rules that govern there, and we can’t hope to understand it in a vacuum; on the other hand, trying to understand those things doesn’t make much sense, does it? Devoting an iota of time to trying to comprehend the essentially absurd is a foolish reaction, isn’t it? We all honestly have better things to do, but we also can’t be doing those things all the time — it’s why there’s going to be an audience who wants to know Marian Hossa’s motivations, who understand the significance of Ceti Alpha V, folks who care whether you shoot at f/1.4 or not.



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