Monday, October 31, 2005

Saw II (Spoilers)

Well I went to see this movie this past weekend. I call it a movie only loosely. If you viewed the first Saw then you know the story is about a cancer patient that has devoted his final days to studying the human condition under extreme stress. Life threatening stress. So he hires a man to kidnap people and lock them in little rooms, in which they have a choice to play by this guy’s crazy rules and live or not play and die. The thing that made Saw viewable was this idea that the killer justified himself by giving people a genuine chance to experience life to the fullest. The one girl that lives through his game quits using drugs and puts her life together. She even says, "He helped me."

Saw II arrives on wings of laughter and song, with all the airy joy of Saw the first. Its makers have devised fresh means of maiming and killing off their characters, if you can call them characters, which I wouldn't, because "characters" infers specific … interesting … characteristics. The flick is more of the same crap that littered Saw, it opens with a guys forced to pluck out his own eye before a bear trap attached to his head goes off. He fails, but I'm sure he would have learned a lot if he did pluck his eye out. At any rate what made the first Saw redeemed is completely missing from the second. The girl that survived in Saw has become the cancer patient's disciple and her first project is Saw II.

She throws 8 folks including herself in a stupid booby trapped house. The son of some crooked cop that framed her at one point is one of those folks. He apparently framed every person in the house. At the end of Saw we found out the part about the study of the human condition. At the end of Saw II we find out that this hollow chick is all about revenge; much less intriguing than the Philosopher Maniac of Saw. And Saw wasn’t even a good movie. The sequel offers no mind-of-the-killer insights, just gratuitous bloodshed and butchery and a few not-too-surprising plot twists. But with a name like Saw, fans probably don't want anything more. I know I did, but I got nothing but disappointment, bitter disappointment.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

A Fuller Definition of Sport

Many have undertaken to define Sport more thoroughly. At first, my enterprise was the same. I set forth by making a list of every Sport I though was a sport and every Sport I didn’t think was a sport. As I went along I realized I couldn’t really figure out why I was ruling certain sports out. That’s when I looked up Sport in good ol’ Webster’s, and realized that the word is flawed if it is used the way I use it. This is the definition: (1) physical activity engaged in for pleasure (2) a particular activity (as an athletic game) so engaged in.

As one may see this didn’t help for clearing things up. So I set out to find a better word and this is what I came up with: when I say sport I really mean contest.

Entry Word: contest
Function: noun
1 an earnest effort for superiority or victory over another
2 a competitive encounter between individuals or groups carried on for amusement, exercise, or in pursuit of a prize

3 a physical dispute between opposing individuals or groups

I am particularly concerned with definition numbers 2 and 3, because I think together they capture the definition of sport as I use it. When I made this distinction the lines between what is sport and what is not became clearer. So for me sport is no longer sport simply; it is now contest. So if sport is contest, then what is sport and what is not? It is easier to define theses parameters by taking the whole and trimming off the things that don’t qualify, thus building a set of qualifiers for what is a sport.

Does the “sport” require competition between individuals or groups?

This question trims off “sports” in which an individual competes against a course or some apparatus. Now some would argue that gymnasts and golfers do compete against each other, but they only compete against each other based on an individual performance against the course or apparatus. This also rules out events which are scored by judges based on presentation, such as figure skating, or freestyle skating or biking.

Does the “sport” require physical competition?

If one defines physical loosely then no sport is trimmed away by this qualifier, but as you might have guessed I define it strictly. A sport must have, as a friend of mine once said, hustle. I think that nicely defines the physicality of sport, but I will define further. Strength is the ability to exert force, and power is the ability to exert force quickly. Power is 90% of the physicality of sport, the other half is precision. Power is nothing without precision. Now think of these holistically in an individual and set a minimum, then you have what I think of as the physicality of sport. Moreover, concerning physical equipment, it is important for sport to have a certain ratio of individual physicality. I say that the majority of physical exertion needs to be done by the competitor over his/her equipment, thus NASCAR and horse racing are ruled out, while bicycle racing is not. So now we can also trim Poker, Billiards, Scrabble, and the spelling bee. I felt like I had to name everything I’ve seen on ESPN.

Now, these qualifiers are preliminary and meant to be conversational. Please add to me what I lack. Tell me what I haven’t considered.