A New York Liberty Blog

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Basketball and the Universe - Essay

Basketball can prove that there is meaning in this universe. How, do you ask?

One has to look at the sport as a whole. There’s the game itself, the players, and the audience. All three are essential to each other, and essential to my point. Without the game, there would be no players. Without players, there would be no audience. Without an audience, there would be no game. One could easily argue in reverse (no audience, no players, no game), or in a completely different order (no players, no audience, no game). It is enough to know that they are all interconnected, and while some components are more important than others, they all rely on each other for the continued existence of the sport, and thus, a league.

Abstraction; the game itself proves that there’s a capacity for complex and abstract thought in human beings. Attack, defend, pass, change, run, walk, guard, shift. Quick, split second decisions that are based on both muscle-memory and the mind. Decisions require comprehension, comprehension requires true choice, and true choice, based upon thousands of ideas and experiences, requires a complex understanding of the world. This will all become important later, but keep it in mind for now.

Cooperation; the players themselves show that human beings can put aside competition and cooperate. A single unit cannot hope to compete against a collective. Look at our cells, each one worthless without a host. Five players on a court, each with their own capacity for thought, relinquish a little bit of control and self for a greater service. Why? Because at one point in the past, two organisms found it much more agreeable to live working with each other, rather than just competing. Competition is good and breeds a better tomorrow, but cooperation helps one get there. But what bridges the cooperation and the abstract?

Connection; the audience shows that the species called homo sapiens requires connection. We work, we breath, we sleep, we die, and in between, we remind ourselves that there are other people out there besides ourselves. Watching this unfold before our eyes in a game reveals a simple complexity in the world; the duplicity of cooperation and competition, the need for both the concrete and the abstract. We watch, and either subconsciously or consciously, we understand that there is something MORE going on that just a random occurrences of events. We see these people on the floor, and know that there is Something, something that makes them do what they do.

All of these together form the foundation of our society and humanity as a whole. When one is focused on one’s own priorities, then everything can become distant. For a human being to survive, this gulf between people must be shortened, to remind a person that not only they have value, but that the things they are doing have value too. Actions are rendered meaningless without human interaction, judgment, and appraisal. But to have a connection, there must be cooperation – both people reaching out to each other – and to have cooperation, there must be the abstraction (and thus, realization) of achievement. This would all be worthless, however, if there wasn’t some reason behind existence.

Sure, we COULD be doing this as cogs in some giant machine, unaware of how our sports, and ultimately lives, are just some great facade. In that case, however, then ALL of existence is pointless. One must make a logical leap somewhere, and in the end, for me, it is the ULTIMATE jump.

Cognite, ergo sum. I think, therefore I am. Existence is based upon my cognizance of its existence. It all comes down to this basic assumption. Either one believes one TRULY exists, or one doesn’t, and to completely deny existence is render all decisions moot. Simply by choosing to accept that the world is meaningless and that there is no purpose (personal or grand) makes any further discussion illogical, since any decision that one makes in this world will ultimately mean nothing. This first, wary step is the most important, as it will dominate all future branchings on the road.

There are many forks, jetties, and dead-ends, let me assure you, because from this tiny opening move, an infinite number of paths open up, building into a crescendo of being that we call Life. But we are still limited by our senses; our body could be pulling off a gigantic trick on our soul. So thus, we must make yet ANOTHER choice; either what is presented to us is real, or it is not. And beyond that, another choice. And another. And yet ANOTHER.

The progression, then? Do I exist? Yes. Is what I am presented with real? Yes. Is this “reality” complex? Infinitely so. Can I comprehend all of this? No. Is it important that I do not? No. Why? Because I have the capacity to understand this argument in the first place and thus realize that there are things beyond my grasp, thus rendering things that I can control more important. What can I control? My thoughts and actions, even if they can be affected by the environment. Proof? Basketball.

See how it works? One goes down to the foundation, then build one’s way back up again. Basketball equals meaning equals existence equals self equals existence equals meaning equals basketball. There are holes, here and there, because the universe is not something that can be explained by a simple thousand word essay typed in an hour and then posted, sans too much proof-reading, on a sports blog, but these are ultimately what make life worth living. Create idea, find something new that challenges this idea, rebuild idea or toss it out. Repeat. The world is vast, the mind vaster still, and existence infinitely more so, but that which we control ultimately does have meaning, simply through our actions involving it.

This is all some food for thought. Keep it in mind the next time you’re at Madison Square Garden, and remember that it’s not just a game in front of you, but the universe unfolding infinitely into the future.

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