Gabriel told me that I needed to see something, and so I did, but I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. If you already know about Men’s Sprint, which we have included in a comic which details a few other lesser known competitions, then what you see in that video won’t surprise you. You will say, “Yes, that’s Men’s Sprint.” Every other person will look at it and wonder why you would give a person some of your gold for doing that. At least, at first! You’ll see.
It taught me the word Velodrome, though; now, I have no choice but to love it.
The specific activity is very nearly irrelevant; if you can score it somehow, or if you can “make things interesting” by attaching a prize correlated to relative performance, the brain works hard to knit a story out of it. I am going to talk to my friend who cuts into brains for a living and find out if she has ever found a shiny stone in the meat somewhere responsible for this. Olympic events are stories within stories, Scheherazade style, and the experience of watching people I don’t know do something I’m not generally interested in and still be utterly fucking entranced seems too purpose-built. Stories are magic; put a couple recognizable slivers of iconography in there - The Victor, The Field - and your mind catches fire.
It’s pretty cool, most of the time. When I was young, I’d use little stories like this as a form of divination - I’d attach outcomes to the amount of time it took do do X, or the level of efficiency, whatever. At some point it flipped, and came to believe that they were already set, and instead of being a game it became a death march against a kind of suspended, omniscient structure. It would not surprise me to learn that Entrapment By Personal Narrative was incredibly common, at many thresholds of effect. Ultimately, submitting one’s life to a psychically corrosive, vaguely perceived Ur-Narrative ceases to be a fun way to pass the time. I eventually required medicine for it; your approach my vary.