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John's World Cup video is here:

I often have an impulse to discount anything that is broadly popular as being obviously "lowest common denominator" kind of content. But in math, the lowest denominator is the ideal you want everything we enjoy to be some kind of ridiculous non-reduced fraction!? That denominator is something that unifies us, and so I'm going to try to watch some World Cup this year. I don't know how on Earth I'm going to find the time to do that, but I did just buy a temporary TV subscription so I could get it.

Thanks John.

I hope this video is broadly unifying. I recognize that the title, and the thumbnail that disagrees with it, are confusing and meant to draw attention, but hopefully the message they send make sense by the end of the video.

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Good morning John.

I have been known to go to a sports game, and sometimes during them, I will be having a particularly good time watching people do extraordinary athletic things, and I will be taken by the urge to just like yell like "SPOOORTS". I do this kind of half and half-y in a way that I don't, like, in the moment realize, like, half of it is: "I'm having an enthusiastically good time with this minor league baseball team, and this hot dog is excellent" and the other half is like: "I am an intellectual and so while I am enjoying this I am enjoying it somewhat separately, and from an anthropological perspective, not like all these normal people".

Which is, of course upon reflection, *aya* crappy. I am not being too hard on my self here, mostly I recognize that the sports games I go to are not super easy to take seriously, like all of the Missoula Bruins are much better hockey players than I am, but they are also mostly teenagers, not like a Madden NFL game with the Pomp and the fireworks and the triple-digit ticket prices. Sometimes I think the Bruins would pay me to go, as long as I sign up to buy a certain amount of personal-pan-pizzas.

I enjoy enjoying things, but I do have still a little bit of that sports-are-dumb-mentality left over from when I was socially discounted and occasionally punched by athletic people when I was myself a teen. This is understandable but it becomes a bit more of a problem when you rationalize that perspective 'cause really it's born in like "I'm not gonna like the things that the people who don't like me like". But instead of admitting why you're actually uninterested which is that you've been kind of socially excluded from enjoying this thing, you end up with some half-assed argument about how "oh it's so exciting that a hockey puck gets to be beyond the geometrically defined plane of the place where you don't want the hockey puck to go.

WHOOOOOOOO! Everybody celebrate! I'm such an intellectual.

I understand where true meaning actually comes from which is ummmmmm... oh shoot!" All value is bestowed by humans so when we say it matters that the ball went through the hoop, it matters! If that makes you uncomfortable, I wouldn't look too long at anything. But I will admit coming into your video a certain lack of interest in the World Cup, though by the end of the video I had a lot of questions that I was very curious about.

Particularly why all the teams seemed to have eleven people except for the Russian team, which has like twenty-six? But also, why did that video, which made me laugh so hard I peed a little, not get more views? And I think that maybe part of that is that nerdfighters are probably a little bit more likely to be like me than like you when it comes to sports enthusiasm.

But as the one who is a little bit perplexed by the fanaticism of sports fans, I wanna make a case for the World Cup. Caring about stuff is good and having passions that you share with people who are otherwise somewhat dissimilar from you is maybe even better! And the thing about the World Cup, unlike, say, the World Series, which will maybe occasionally have a Canadian team in it, it really is a WORLD CUP.

Soccer and I apologize for using that word but I am deeply American is a world sport! In the same way that the US and Russia and a bunch of other countries can work together on a space station and maybe that is an even loftier thing than the science that gets done there, for one month every two years the whole world works together to figure out who's best at a dumb game.  But honestly, maybe there isn't anything less dumb than this? We have these tribal instincts and so finding ways to focus them on something that isn't violent but instead it's beautiful!

It's a celebration of human skill and intellect and hard work and perseverance. In other words, it's a celebration of a bunch of stuff that pretty much everybody can get on board for. There's an equality of the pitch, an opportunity for nations to interact in a way that doesn't have anything to do with the fraught mess of geopolitics.

The World Cup matters so much without mattering too much, at least to most people.  So what I'm saying is, maybe sports are dumb. And maybe that's the whole reason why sports aren't dumb. John, I'll see you on Tuesday.