There is no time in sport for tears. In football there are men, real mean—whatever that means—and they can’t cry unless maybe they’re the coach, in which case, okay, we’ll accept it as a possibility—after winning a big game, perhaps. Or the same thing, only losing. But not the players. The players, there are twenty-two of them on the field and they wear pads, I think, and I’m pretty sure, some helmets. It is maybe against the rules if you don’t have a helmet. Like riding a bike, only different. Sometimes they say “hike” and sometimes they say “hut” and sometimes they say “Blue! 42! Blue! 42!” though that may be a myth and anyways I’m pretty sure they all mean the same thing, or close to it, like love and cherish and miss. But there is—I’m quite sure of this—a ball involved. It is brown and swollen with stitches like the busted lips of a child, which, all in all, I imagine was the intended effect. Like life, there are rules about what you can and cannot do with the ball, what you can and cannot do with your body—though, unlike life, the penalties seem to be not so severe. It should be clear by now I know nothing about football. In this way it is very much like everything else—like croquet, say, or dying.
What I do know: in football when a player is injured the stands go quiet until he rises again and everyone claps for him—partly because they are glad he is all right, partly because it is something like a brave thing to take bodily injury on behalf of those of us who can’t, and partly because they are excited that the game, now, will continue. Partly because he wasn’t all right, partly because dying isn’t brave—partly because the game was just over, over—at my grandfather’s funeral not a single person clapped.”