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Alcoa, the biggest aluminum company in the country, encountered (several) problems peculiar to Iceland when, in 2004, it set about erecting its giant smelting plant. The first was the so-called hidden people - or, to put it more plainly, elves - in whom some large number of Icelander, steeped long and thoroughly in their rich folkloric culture, sincerely believe. Before Alcoa could build its smelter it had to defer to a government expert to scour the enclosed plant site and certify that no elves were on or under it. It was a delicate corporate situation, as they had to pay hard cash to declare the site elf-fee, but couldn’t as a company be in the position of actually acknowledging the existence of hidden people.
— from Boomerang by Michael Lewis
Watching sports is, among other things, a special way of experiencing time. Sport is like music or fiction or film in that, for a predetermined duration, it asks you to give it control over your emotions, to feel what it makes you feel. Unlike (most) forms of art, though, a game has no foreordained plan or plot or intention. The rules of a game impose a certain kind of order, but it’s different from the order of an artwork. A movie knows where it wants to take you; no one can say in advance where a game will go. All of its beauty, ugliness, boredom, and excitement, all of its rage and sadness emerge spontaneously out of the players’ competing desires to win. For however long the clock runs, your feelings are at the mercy of chance. This happens and then this happens and then this happens. You’re experiencing, in a contained and intensified way, something like the everyday movement of life.
— Brian Phillips begins his truly wonderful World Cup wrap-up with perhaps the best articulation ever of the value of watching sports