That sports of any kind at any level are worthy of the sort of rapturous, overwrought ejaculations characterized by Frank Deford‘s vapid Wednesday blatherings on NPR (usually about baseball) or, more immediately, David Foster Wallace’s much-ballyhooed 6,500 word meditation on Roger Federer (“Roger Federer as Religious Experience,” NYT 2006.8.20). It more or less goes without saying, then, that the likelihood of these sesquipedalian eruptions being worth reading is roughly on par with, say, the danger of terrorist attack. Deford, an aging sportswriter (he’s nearly 70), can’t get enough of baseball, and thinks it’s a great metaphor for life. As if that’s never been said before.
Still, Deford is a sportswriter, and one in the last act of his career. Sportswriters have always erred on the side of clumsy, purple prose — and false profundity — to avoid the central fact that reporting on sports is best accomplished with tables and numbers, not endless synonyms for “beat.”
Wallace, though, is theoretically some sort of elite literary craftsman (though one who should employ an editor capable of snapping his “footnote” key), which implies to us that he should have something more interesting to say than “I really, really like Roger Federer,” especially if he’s getting nearly 10,0001 words in the New York Times.
Seriously. What. The. Fuck? We’re hardly unlettered here at Heathen, but the appeal escapes us utterly – and we even like tennis.
[1. His footnotes ran to over 2,000 words. Seriously, David, the whole footnote schtick was clever when Nabokov did it in 1962. Now it’s just irritating.]