Erotics of sports?

Chinlone players from the movie Mystic Ball.

Here are two things I’ve been trying to combine in my head since June:

  • I watched the World Cup soccer games this summer. I’ve never been a sports fan. The competition seemed meaningless, like it was wasting its potential. It was still fun, but I wanted something. Surely atheleticism and competition could add up to more than some arbitrary, slightly psychotic spectacle.
  • In his workbook The Erotic Mind, Dr. Jack Morin wrote that “eroticism is the process through which sex acquires meaning.” That made me think immediately of sports, believe it or not. I think my experience with sports might be like boring sex, without any erotic framework.

I’ve just been kind of storing that partial idea, pending further inspiration.

But, I think I found a film I need to watch. I spotted it in the Vancouver International Film Festival guide (after the festival was over— argh!). It’s called Mystic Ball.

Chinlone is a unique combination of sport and dance, a team sport with no opposing team. The focus is not on winning, but on how beautifully you play the game.

For director Greg Hamilton, what begins as a physical exercise soon becomes a meditation and a dance with gravity. Mystic Ball follows Hamilton as he evolves from an awkward beginner to a teammate capable of soloing with the greatest chinlone players in the country. During numerous trips to Myanmar and the city of Mandalay, Hamilton is embraced by a community that shares his passion. We see the development of his friendship with the “Golden Princess” Su Su Hlaing, the greatest chinlone solo artist in the country. And we learn what chinlone means to a couple of elders who have been playing the game everyday for the last 70 years.

That movie might be beyond my New Age threshold (Golden Princess?), and the sport sounds suspiciously like Burmese Hacky Sack, but I’m going to file it away just in case.