In baseball, writes Eugene Peterson, "the world is defined by exactly measured lines and precise, geometric patterns... Errors are instantly detected and their consequences immediately experienced. Rule infractions are instantly detected and their consequences immediately experienced... Outstanding performance is recognized and applauded on the spot.
"While the game is being played, people of widely divergent temperaments, moral values, religious commitments and cultural backgrounds agree on a goal and the means for pursuing it. When the game is over, everyone knows who won and who lost. It is a world from which all uncertainty is banished, in which everything is clear and obvious."
But off the playing field, he continues, "None of the lines are precise. The boundaries are not clear. Goals are not agreed upon. Means are in constant dispute...At the end of the day -- or the week, or the year -- there is no agreement on who has won and who has lost." And, of course, bad behavior is not always punished, nor is outstanding performance always recognized or applauded.
No wonder people love to lose themselves in sports...