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Closing Windows

Posted by on May 16, 2014

Bill Simmons ‘meditation’ on the uncertainty of the future, the ephemerality of opportunity.

The thing about sports is they tell you when it’s over.  Everybody talks about giving 110% and never quitting, but only as long as the game is going on.  When the final buzzer sounds, whether you’ve won or lost you know to go home.  Nobody calls you a quitter when you walk off the court or the field after the final buzzer.  But in other walks of life you may not know when your chance has passed.  Maybe you figure it out eventually, and eventually you do die, so I guess you know it’s over then, but while you’re alive there’s no moment when you can be sure it’s over.  The buzzer sounds silently and no one tells you.  If you think you’ve heard the buzzer and you walk off the field, then they do call you a quitter.  And if you don’t quit and still haven’t succeeded by the time you die, then they say that you sucked.

Another way sports is different from art is there are clear criteria for quality.  Nobody is going to say a team that won the championship is a bad team or a team that failed to make the playoffs is a good team.  But in art you do hear similar arguments all the time.  A writer who sells relatively few copies may not have been trying to sell many copies; his aim may have for something else, but that defense only goes so far.  A commercial writer is justified by the number of copies he sells; an artistic writer by the perceived artistic quality of his work, but only as long as his sales are above some minimum number; sell fewer than that or fail to be published at all and then they *will* say that you are bad regardless of what your aim was.

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