Sports are compelling for many reasons, one of which is their power to create immediacy, the experience of being only in the present moment with no conscious awareness of the past or a future beyond the event. Generally speaking, the more compelling the event, the longer the sense of immediacy.
But on a smaller scale, auditory experiences associated with sports also produce immediacy in pleasurable little moments that effortlessly sharpen, excite, and sweeten the senses.
The sounds of sport that resonate with one individual may not resonate with another, for the phenomenon is purely subjective. Here are a few-- both acoustic and amplified-- that, for me, never fail to captivate:
The muffled pop of a baseball nestling into the pocket of a glove, harkening summer regardless of the season.
Jackie Stewart's Scottish brogue, so cool no matter what he's talking about.
The rhythmic, echoing thud of a basketball dribbled in an empty gym-- blissful solitude, just a player and his game.
"Marichal kicks and delivers . . . and there's a high drive deep into center field . . . back goes Mays, a way back . . . to the wall . . . she's gone!"
The dampened, percussive drumbeat of hooves syncopating the turf as a fleet of thoroughbreds rounds a corner at The Derby.
The low, rumbling roll of a 16 pound ball honing its inexorable way toward a xylophonic collision with tenpins.
"Runners to your marks . . . se-eh-eh-t" . . . bang!
An America's Cup spinnaker unfurling, luffing in the breeze like an enormous piece of fresh laundry, then snapping taut with a smart whap as it fills.
The Three Stooges doink when a brick clangs off the iron in hoops at any level.
The clacking of a racked set of pool balls exploding into a microcosm of the Big Bang, as the cue ball releases their energy.
"And down the stretch they come!"
The doppler-effect whine of Indy cars streaking by like comets trying to outrace their tails.
The modulated rattling of a putt settling into the cup-- the quintessential signature of finessed success.
The thwock as the plastic collars rotate in the oar locks, releasing eight blades in unison from the water as they vault a 60 foot long racing shell to the apex of its speed in the stroke cycle.
The battering of helmets and shoulder pads as the men in the trenches come off the ball at the snap.
The comingling of The Anthem and cheers as the last stanza transitions into "Play ball!"
The crack of the bat hitting the ball right on the sweet spot. There's no better sound in sport.
Thanks for listening.