On sports chatter

"Sport as practice, as activity, no longer exists, or exists for economic reasons... and there exists only chatter about chatter about sport. The chatter about chatter of the sports press constitutes a game with its full set of rules... It will be seen, as for that matter everyone knows already, that evaluations, judgments, arguments, polemical remarks, denigrations, and paeans follow a verbal ritual, very complex but with simple and precise rules. In this ritual, intellectual energies are exercised and neutralized; physical energies are no longer in play, so the competition shifts to a purely 'political' level. In fact, the chatter about sports chatter has all the characteristics of a political debate. They say what the leaders should have done, what they did do, what we would have liked them to do, what happened, and what will happen... Such chatter seems therefore the parody of political talk; but since in this parody the strength that the citizen had at his disposal for political debate is vitiated and disciplined, this chatter is the ersatz of political speech, but to such a heightened degree that it becomes itself political speech. Afterwards, there's no more room – because the person who chatters about sport, if he didn't do this, would at least realize he has possibilities of judgment, verbal aggressiveness, political competitiveness to employ somehow. But sports chatter convinces him that his energy is expended to conclude something. Having allayed his doubt, sport fulfills its role of fake conscious."

– Umberto Eco, Sports Chatter