Why We Watch: Royce White, The Double

We look for ourselves in the athletes we watch. But what happens when we find ourselves there?
Share |

This essay was adapted from a post on Shoals' Tumblr.

I’ve always wanted to understand athletes as humans. I don't mean to say, by this, that I necessarily want to get deep or personal over the course of several hours with any or all of them. What I mean to say is that, even if only superficially, or symbolically, the athletes I've found most compelling have been at their most compelling to me when they reflected something basic about being human.

Playing sports isn’t life, even for those who make it their living. Rather, sports are bits and pieces of life reassembled in a heightened, refined form. No sport or league is exempt from the human condition, any more than anything else could be. And yes, it’s possible to have a fiction, or a smokescreen, that still speaks to what athletes really mean to us—why they have resonance, why we stop and pay attention no matter what the score. We watch press conferences, for Christ’s sake. We look for something there, and sometimes we find something there.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. But there is a (popular) type of sports-following that dabbles in hagiography, delusion, and self-serving invention, while at the same time pouncing on shards of candor as if they were the key to an entire forbidden city. Above all else, though, we don't have time for heroes. There's time for heroics, sure, and the strain of exceptional circumstances. A priori heroism is both a burden and object of fascination, but never cause for a parade. Acts and actions, gestures on and off the court. These are the bits and pieces I’ve always relied upon in understanding sports. Aura is either terrifyingly earned or gleefully shallow.

All of which is a long way of saying that Great Athlete Narratives have never meant shit to me. Redemption is personal, never political; sports should be no exception. Look no further than Kevin Garnett, who saved his legacy only to morph into a psychotic jerk for all the world to see, and so redefine that legacy again. The struggle in recovery from injury and the split-second Willis Reed references that chase it are less about easy templates and more about the lasting power these have for us down the line. Twitter’s instant judgment, while endlessly amusing, could not be further from fixing memories in place. You did it! Now what happens? That’s how stories should start, not end. And so: Royce White.

***

Royce White’s tumultuous pro career, young as it is, has already made me realize one major rupture in all I’ve laid out above. While sports are always somewhat alien to me and thus/so endlessly easy to twist to my own needs, there are certain subjects—mental illness among them—that don't afford me that luxury. You can guess my diagnosis if you want, but suffice it to say that I take a ton of meds and have problems conducting myself in an orderly fashion, especially in any remotely professional setting. I sulk a lot and also am given to extremely irrational outbursts. Case closed.

And so further suffice it to say that when it comes to mental illness and possibly drugs, I turn into the worst kind of Sports Shouting (or drab Romantic) fan. White has only ever been so interesting to me, if I'm being honest. I’ve been eager to see him to succeed, one damaged brain to another, but compared to Delonte West or Ricky Williams, White, his situation, and his diagnosis are—at the risk of sounding like the worst person on Earth—a little too familiar, too relatable. If we want athletes to provide us with something to look up to or scoff at from above, then White's workplace drama and solid skill-set are a far cry from Williams walking away from football because he felt like it. Also different: West, a versatile and charismatic guard, riding around on a Rascal with a submachine gun like he saw on Storage Wars; the chronic self-harming outbursts of Sheed or DeMarcus Cousins.

White is no anthem or metaphor. Nor does readily lend himself to mythology, however dark. He’s a dude trying to do his job with a condition that makes it hard for him. Courageously, he has decided to push back instead of knuckling under and causing himself untold amounts of psychic hassle. This is activism for the mentally ill in sports, a template for persons more ordinary, a throwback to liberation movements of the days when such things really worked, and perhaps a preview of what the inevitable First Gay Athlete will look like.

What Royce White isn’t, though, is a caricature, an exception, or the kind of singularly self-destructive being whose rise and fall we will talk about for years. He succeeds or fails on remarkably practical terms. It’s unlikely White will ever achieve on-court immortality; that was unlikely even without his condition. For now, his struggle is being pitched very much like a stand against the system, not someone already driven to extremes by its proscriptions.

But still, I can’t help but fixate on those other athletes, the ones who make my life seem bigger and more unpredictable as opposed to White, whose life serves as some reflection of my own. That’s the problem with nearly all sports-watching, and the escapist/happy tribalism excuse only ever answers so much. At bottom, we should watch because we want to find ourselves, or the world as we know it. If sports belongs only to knights and robots, we are that much closer to a video game universe and entertainment (or community ritual) becomes that much more dehumanizing—for audience and participant alike. This is the challenge that White presents: watching sports to find ourselves and see our world is one thing; actually finding ourselves and everything else is something else entirely.

There's a gulf between what it feels like to watch sports, unencumbered, and all the baggage we bring to it. It should be ourselves. Instead, it is, largely, the pre-game and the nonsense cant of jock wisdom. In those terms, White is strictly a nuisance, not a rich-as-life character. Which isn’t to say there’s anything wrong with characters. Only that, when there’s something very real on the line, we would do well to remember that sports belong to the world, not the other way around. And I would do well to remind myself of that. That’s what I meant to say.

Illustration by Mike McGrath Jr of Double Scribble.


Share |

Comments

I have perused a large portion of your posts. This post is likely where I got the most valuable data for my exploration. A debt of gratitude is in order for posting, perhaps we can see more on this. Are you mindful of whatever other sites on this subject
how to buy backlinks

This information is excellent, man. I am not kidding about it at all. This information has helped me a lot in writing a project on this topic. Keep the good work going on
blog comments backlinks

Hi, I have perused a large portion of your posts. This post is likely where I got the most valuable data for my exploration. A debt of gratitude is in order for posting, perhaps we can see more on this. Are you mindful of whatever other sites on this subject. sell gold

This is a glorious article. Truly, one of the most mesmerizing articles of this year. This is certainly your best work yet. I just hope that you can continue to work like this in the future as well.
as explained here

Excellent article. I really enjoyed reading this wonderful article. Everything here is just top notch and I could not have asked for a much better article than this today. Thanks a lot for this!
as explained here

This information is excellent, man. I am not kidding about it at all. This information has helped me a lot in writing a project on this topic. Keep the good work going on. Wyoming Attorney Tumblr

I cherish the way you compose and share your corner! Exceptionally intriguing and distinctive! Keep it coming! buy fast YouTube views

I just like the valuable info you provide for your articles.I’ll bookmark your weblog and take a look at once more right here regularly. I am reasonably certain I’ll learn a lot of new stuff proper here
get the facts

Truly an incredible expansion. I have perused this great post. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing data about it. I truly like that. Much obliged so part for your assemble. werbegeschenke bedrucken

As most of you know, saving electricity will be a good way to lower monthly electricity bills. It'll be extremely difficult to get rid of some electrical appliances simply because you want to save energy. There are better methods to do this. Find out here
get the facts

Incredible posting this is from you. I am really and truly thrilled to read this marvelous post. You've really impressed me today. I hope you'll continue to do so! athleta discount code

This is a glorious article. Truly, one of the most mesmerizing articles of this year. This is certainly your best work yet. I just hope that you can continue to work like this in the future as well. cut electricity

As most of you know, saving electricity will be a good way to lower monthly electricity bills. It'll be extremely difficult to get rid of some electrical appliances simply because you want to save energy. There are better methods to do this. Find out here.. Reduce Electric Bills here...

niche relevant backlinks Thanks for a wonderful share. Your article has importations your hard work and experience you have got in This field. Brilliant reading .I love it. high trust flow backlinks dofollow

Hi, I have perused a large portion of your posts. This post is likely where I got the most valuable data for my exploration. A debt of gratitude is in order for posting, perhaps we can see more on this. Are you mindful of whatever other sites on this subject. tattoo supplies

Great details here, better yet to discover out your blog which is fantastic. Nicely done!!!
Mark Curry Macfarlane

You've really made my day today with this. I hope you keep this up!
benefits of fenugreek seeds for weight loss

This is a great article. The information is written very well and the information is very helpful. This is, without a doubt, one of the best articles I've read on the internet in a while. voyance france

so happy to find good place to many here in the post, the writing is just great, thanks for the post. beer delivery

This is a top class article. Everything here is just top notch high quality. The information was extremely helpful for me and I just hope that you can continue to give us more articles like this
get the facts

I can see why since you have done such a good job of making it interesting.motor trading insurance

Very interesting blog. A lot of blogs I see these days don't really provide anything that I'm interested in, but I'm most definitely interested in this one. Just thought that I would post and let you know bolig i tyrkia

I am really thankful to all your squad for sharing specified inspirational substance.blog immobilier

It is an extraordinary site.. The Design looks great.. Continue working like that!. Instagram

This is a great article from you, mate. You've shown here once again why you are the no.1 writer in the world right now. Your stuff is always great to read and I just hope you'll keep giving us more articles. sell my home

Amazing knowledge and I like to share this kind of information with my friends and hope they like it they why I do. designer furniture

This blog post is just brilliantly written. I have to say that this is your best post yet. Please, check interesting article and continue to give more posts as astonishing as this one. Cheers!

The groups not reading your blogs are missing out a lot of caliber material.carrageenan

Your work is great and I value you and bouncing for some more enlightening posts. Much obliged to you for sharing extraordinary data to us check out this site

Thank you for posting this information on this topic. This has helped me out a lot. I was finally able to complete my project on this topic. You are a gem of a writer!! How Many Days Until Christmas 2016

Cool website buddy I am gona suggest this to all my list of contacts.Whakki Media

Yes i am totally agreed with this article and i just want say that this article is very nice and very informative article.I will make sure to be reading your blog more. You made a good point but I can't help but wonder, what about the other side? !!!!!!THANKS!!!!!! best baby cribs

I am very fascinating towards these images shown here in this blog. And really very nice thread! vampire outfits

I’ve always relied upon in understanding sports. Aura is either terrifyingly earned or gleefully shallow.GetYourCouponCodes

Another brilliant article posted by you here. This certainly is one of the best articles that I've read in a long time. Thanks a lot for posting this article. I hope you'll continue to give more articles like this. text your ex back

I just like the valuable info you provide for your articles.I’ll bookmark your weblog and take a look at once more right here regularly. I am reasonably certain I’ll learn a lot of new stuff proper here Website

A harming shoulder is no fun and when the shoulder hurts this usually causes other pains that also prevail to golfers.www.injuredshoulder.com

OK app if you want to add a comment section you have use mutt forums just google it but its extremely simple to use.play games

This is a well written post. The information here was extremely good for me. I was finally able to complete my project on this topic, thanks to the info here. Printer Drums

You've done another great job with this article here. You are one of the most fascinating writers of this century, mate and you keep proving that. Just keep proving it in the future as well. electricsaver1200.info- Best Electric Saver 1200 on the market

This is another great article from you, mate. You are one of the most fascinating writers of this era. I just wish that you keep giving us more stuff like this. Cheers, mate. Learn how you can save 25% off your power bills

I've been hunting down some not too bad stuff on the subject and haven't had any fortunes up until this point, You just got another greatest fan!.. nouvalift instant wrinkle reducer

Reed references that chase it are less about easy templates and more about the lasting power these have for us down the line.mykonos luxury villas

This is a well written post. I can honestly say that this is one of the most fascinating posts that I've read in my entire life. Great work done here! psychic readings

I would also motivate just about every person to save this web page for any favorite assistance to assist posted the appearance. My Natural Hair Extensions LLC

I just like the valuable info you provide for your articles.I’ll bookmark your weblog and take a look at once more right here regularly. I am reasonably certain I’ll learn a lot of new stuff proper here pacific andes share price

Very interesting blog. A lot of blogs I see these days don't really provide anything that I'm interested in, but I'm most definitely interested in this one. Just thought that I would post and let you know solarmovie

so happy to find good place to many here in the post, the writing is just great, thanks for the post. bedside table

You've provided me some really great information here. I was in dire need of some information on this article and you've given me that today. I just hope that you can continue to do more work like this voyance web

A good blog always comes-up with new and exciting information and while reading I have feel that this blog is really have all those quality that qualify a blog to be a one.I wanted to leave a little comment to support you and wish you a good continuation. read review