What the arts need to learn from sportmain
From my essay in this month’s The Critic:
Since there’s nothing much happening on the music front, I shall write about a more important subject, namely sport. It is not me but governments who have declared sport to be more important, so much so that they have permitted televised football while opera houses and concert halls remain under lockdown. The official case for professional sport is that it is good for the public’s mental health. The case against concerts is — well, who cares?…
Sixty years ago, C.P. Snow argued that there were Two Cultures in which people in the humanities knew nothing of science, and vice-versa. That chasm has since been bridged. Most of us know a bit of both, especially in a pandemic when science is a matter of life or death and music is required for remembrance of the dead.
Both pursuits, however, have been overtaken by sport. In Snow’s time no cultured person would admit to knowing which team was top of the league. In ours, no conversation is complete without checking the latest scores on your phone.
Sports chat is the great ice-breaker, whether at the clinic while receiving your vaccine or at a Zoom lecture by a Nobel laureate. Most arts people look down on professional sport. They would do better to ask themselves why sport has displaced them at the heart of our culture, why politicians will always listen to Marcus Rashford ahead of Simon Rattle….
Read on here.