Subscribe to ThaWilsonBlock Magazine $2.99/mo

WilsonBlock1000 Radio

Stay Close to the Sound of Sport: Here's Why

The poet Hafez suggests, "stay close to any sounds that make you glad you're alive." 

Sports is riddled with such sounds. Some are simple notes—the crack of the bat, the golf ball hissing through the air, the break of a clean tackle or the check of a field hockey stick against another. Others ring louder and stronger. They are communal—almost congregational. They are infused with electricity, each one a staccato note amplified to 11. And this video reminded me of this truth; see for yourself!

What fascinates me about sound is that its power can be both felt and heard when accented by the absence of it. This is an essential ingredient to good music. For example, the rest—that interval of silence that corresponds with a particular note value—makes the other notes ring true. It is evidenced in sports, as well. When I coached cross country, I was ever aware of the collective silence on the start line just before the gun goes off. I felt the intensity of the moment deep in my bones. In golf, I pay attention to the summons for "quiet please" as a golfer prepares to address the ball. I expect the same when I address the ball. I invite you to think of other examples. What are the sounds of silence? Especially when it comes to sport. 

Phillies fans however are anything but silent. In fact, I stand in total awe and appreciation of their collective voice. Baseball and Citizens' Bank Park feels and sounds LIGHT YEARS away form Oracle. Once known as "Roaracle," I would love to hear sounds like theirs—chanting the walk up song, clapping and cheering. Victory may taste sweet, but it sounds pretty good, too!

"Bryson Stott Grand Slam With No Commentary And Pure Crowd Noise" reminds me that we ought to lean into the sound of sport, and of sports fans, too. 

Vin Scully knew this tactic. He was the play-by-play announcer for the Brooklyn / Los Angeles Dodgers for sixty-seven years, beginning in 1950 and ending in 2016. As much as I truly love the voice of San Francisco Giants announcer John Miller, Scully is considered to be the greatest baseball broadcaster of all time. Indeed, he stayed close to the sounds mentioned by the lyrical poet. 

As written in The New York Post, "Scully avoided gimmicks, hype, signature calls, forced belly laughs, endless stats and hollering over nothing." He will be remembered for the steady tone of his voice along, his great knowledge of baseball and most distinctly for knowing when he should speak and when the game ought to speak for itself.

In class, I showed the winning home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. I provided some context for the setting—the Dodgers' Kirk Gibson facing off against A's closer Dennis Eckersley. (NB: One has to wonder why we don't have baseball players that look like the Eck today...or maybe some try to...). I taught my students who Vin Scully was and invited them to pay attention to his play-by-play. 

I asked them, "What did Scully say? Why is this call so famous?"
My seniors didn't know how to respond.
One brave student said "I don't really think he said anything."
"Exactly," I said.
I added, "In that moment, on the highest stage in baseball, Scully got out of the way and let sport speak for itself."
Whether or not you're a Dodger fan, I think baseball fans can recognize that moment was poetry. 

In "Badlands," Bruce Springsteen sings "it ain't no sin to be glad you're alive." That song, the entire album: "Darkness on the Edge of Town" is one I stay close to. But, the Live 1975-1985 3-CD/Tape/Record drew me in to that record first. I'm convinced the Boss' energy and the enthusiasm of the crowd make it sound that much better...

Stay close to certain sounds. Remember and relish them. Behold and believe. Happiness awaits.

Photo Credits
Youtube and The Live-Album




Show more