Thursday, February 9, 2017

Team Spirit--Contrasting Sports With Climate Change

For anyone looking for a model of human behavior--some deep motivation that we could tap to shift humanity towards a less perilous course--people's passion for team sports offers a ray of hope. There's the strong tradition of putting the team first. Individual glory lacks meaning if the team doesn't prosper. The fans, too, are devoted body and soul to the collective enterprise, and glory in the feeling of being part of something larger than themselves. In sports, people lose their phobia for numbers. Fans revel in statistics, grasp the immensity while obsessing over the details. Did the receiver have possession when he stepped out of bounds? Show me the rerun, in slow motion.

If only we could channel such collective passion towards activities that really matter. A game's outcome seems all-important at the time, but doesn't change the world one bit. Meanwhile, the climate that sustains life as we know it is being radically altered, and rather than rise to the challenge, many people invent excuses for not taking action. Contrast that attitude with how people react when a team makes a last minute comeback to win the big game. This year's Superbowl 51, in which the New England Patriots pulled off a seemingly impossible comeback, was a case in point.

"Team Spirit" crams that contrast into one minute of theater, through dialogue between fans "A" and "B". The piece was first performed as part of the 2016 NJ One-Minute Festival hosted by the Luna Stage.

by Stephen Hiltner

Two people stand together, center-right. They speak to each other, but address portions of sentences out into space.

A: The climate isn’t changing.

B: And if the climate IS changing, it’s not our fault.

A: And if it IS our fault, there’s nothing we can do about it.

B: And if there IS something we can do about it, it would hurt the economy.

A: And even if it didn’t hurt the economy, we’re just one country.

B: And even if other countries go along and do something, too, I mean, why bother? It’s already too late.

A: Right!

B: (pause) Hey, do we have time to catch the game?

A: (starts heading slowly stage left) Yeah. Let’s go. Did you see the last one?

B: (joining him, slow progression stage left as they continue talking) That was amazing. I don’t know how they pulled it out, but they did!

A: What a team! They don’t give up.

B: (pausing to revel in the team’s attributes) So resilient.

A: Yeah. And they adjust. They aren’t stuck in their ways. They find a way to win!

B: (they resume walking stage left) And they’re unselfish, you know? Everybody does their part. A real team effort.

A: And that last shot, right at the buzzer.

B: Man, I was horse from cheering.

A: I LOVE games like that!

(the last words are spoken as they leave stage. A few moments of silence, with stage empty, before lights dim for next play, to allow the irony to sink in. The empty stage could represent the void in action taken to slow climate change.)

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