Bill Savage on the similarities between sports, theatre and pornography | WBEZ
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Bill Savage on the similarities between sports, theatre and pornography

The Chicago Cubs at Spring training in Arizona (Flickr/Chuck Reynolds)
Lookingglass Theatre, in downtown Chicago (Flickr/Ed and Eddie)

Sports fans and theater fans appear to have little in common. But both celebrate a spring season, argues Northwestern English Professor Bill Savage (yes, brother of Dan), and we're on the brink of it. In fact, Savage says that "the fundamental nature of the theatre and sports and pornography is the same: People watching other people do something."

Savage explained the clear scientific reasoning behind his theory at The Paper Machete on Saturday. Read an excerpt, or listen below:

"Chicago is a tribal place, as is especially apparent right before baseball’s rite of spring, Opening Day. April 5 at Wrigley, Friday April 13 at Cellular One -- good luck White Sox! North Side v. South Side, Cubs fans v. Sox fans, all the dormant rivalries that sleep, even through the mild off-season like the one we’ve just had, awaken from their winter torpor and blink at the sunlight like sewer rats coming up the stairs at the Clark and Division Red Line stop. Or maybe like flowers blooming, Persephone returning from Hades, whatever vernal metaphor suits your fancy.

People who take baseball seriously often write about this seasonal cycle: Baseball begins with spring, the return of fertility to the earth, heats up through the summer, then with autumn’s harvest declines into the World Series--except at Wrigley Field. During winter, fans huddle around the 'hot stoveto discuss the season past and the one to come. Great baseball writer Thomas Boswell entitled one of his books Why Time Begins on Opening Day.

People who don’t take sports seriously counter: Why Time Slows Down to a Dead Stop And I Die Inside at the Very Thought of Having to Watch a Baseball Game. 

This attitude brings us to another tribal division prominent in Chicago culture, and, I would imagine, in this very room, a divide bigger than the one between Cubs and Sox fans–who after all are both baseball fans, albeit of different combative sub-species, a divide bigger than the political one between the Schaumburg Tea Party Republican douchenozzle and the Occupy La Salle Street Pilsen-gentrifying crust-punk:

Sports fans v. theatre patrons."


The Paper Machete is a weekly live magazine at the Horseshoe in North Center. It's always at 3 p.m., it's always on Saturday, and it's always free. Get all your The Paper Machete Radio Magazine needs filled here, or download the podcast from iTunes here.

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