Sunday, March 27, 2011

Basketball as Religion

Today is one of the great movable feasts of Kentucky's civil religion - the NCAA men's basketball tournament. The feast happens for a month each year, and Kentucky gets to participate almost every year through several avatars, most especially the University of Kentucky. This year has been a heightened collective effervescence. The team beat the top-ranked team in a very close game the other night. 90% of my friends' Facebook posts for the next ten hours were about the game.

Tonight the UK teams faces off against a traditional rival power, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Which means that the Bluegrass will simply stop functioning from 5 to about 7 tonight. I bet half the households in the middle of the state, and probably a quarter of the rest, will watch or listen to the game. Facebook will be full of running commentary. Tomorrow's conversation in all venues, high and low, male and female, of every color and nominal creed, will at least touch on the game, whatever the outcome.

Which is fine. Civil religion unites. The content does not have to be the most elevated, as long as it is shared. Indeed, there is only a minority taste for the most elevated content (or the least elevated, for that matter). Civil religion faith and practice pretty much have to be middle-brow and middle-morals. But if everyone is willing to care, and share their caring, then civil society is renewed. Which is a good thing.

No comments: