MrsDarwin and the kids were off visiting Bearing today, and not expected back till late, so I allowed myself to get sucked into watching the US v Belgium game, which was playing on the massive screen in one of the conference rooms near my cube.
Normally I'm one of the world's die hard sports agnostics. I'm not sure that I've ever sat down with the express intention of watching a televised professional (or college) sports game all the way through, and the only game I ever saw in person was back in fourth grade when they took all the altar boys to a Clippers game. Still, watching the second half of the game, and then the overtime, I found myself deeply involved. We all cheered when Julian Green scored the US team's one goal in the last fifteen minutes of the game, and the mounting tension as it looked repeatedly like team USA might bring it up to a tie and bring the game to penalty goals.
This wasn't quite the first time this ever happened. I happened to have gone to an Irish-themed pub to listen to my brother-in-law's band play the night of the last game between the Rangers and the Giants in the 2010 World Series, and in a game between a "red" team and a "blue" team played the day before the 2010 election, I found myself susceptible to becoming deeply involved in rooting for Texas.
Given that life in the Darwin household has revolved so much around novel writing of late, and that when writing I somehow get sucked into a vortex of doubt over whether anyone can really be interested in the doings of people who don't exist, it struck me that these brief sports enthusiasms of mine are a bit like the Paradox of Fiction. Why, after all, should it matter a whit to me which of two groups of soccer players sweating it out down in Brazil wins a game? Why in the world other than that we choose to invest interest and excitement in the question. Something interesting enough happens to pull us in, some circumstance, some personality, and next thing we know we are tensing every muscle waiting to see the outcome of a contest that in any objective sense ought to mean nothing to us.