Sports has the shortest view. Nothing lasts much longer than a season, and the basic unit of time is the moment. Sports fans and players appreciate each instant; a relic from sports is a “great moment.” The only sports people who indulge in long-range thinking are statisticians and record freaks; they try to make each moment in sports bigger by comparing it with every other moment in as many ways as possible. Thus we hear about “The Most Rebounds in One Quarter of a Championship Series Game in the NBA-19, by Bill Russell, Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers, April 9, 1962,” or about the “Most Consecutive Strike-Outs by a Left-Handed Batter in World Series Play.” Such records give a little immortality to nearly every contest, where time is diced up into thousands of tiny pieces, so that almost every moment can have a record attached to it. But whenever a record is broken you can expect it to be followed by the next broken record. Records march on, pretty much like time itself.
Sports not only claims smaller bits of time, it also claims smaller bits of truth. Artists or professors of literature say quite seriously that “Art is truth.” They don’t mean a fleeting bit of the truth: they mean ‘The’ truth. Religious leaders say the same thing, and so do politicians (“We hold these truths to be self-evident … “). Sports has a humble approach; the only truth it claims is the score, which changes all the time. The “final” score lasts only until the next game. Such humility has a liberating effect. Because sports doesn’t assert any overarching truth, people can say just about anything they want. Sports is the land of exaggeration, and the bigger the yarn the better people like it. You can have “The Game of the Century” every week or so, and you can say, “There is no tomorrow” in the heat of the finals, and all that happens is that spectators become a little more nervous about the outcome. Think of the reaction if the Pope or the President of the United States announced that there was no tomorrow.
(Source: Bill Russell & Taylor Branch—Second Wind)