A reiteration for ESPN fans: To be a hard-core sports buff you need to be inherently conservative on some deep-down level. By this I mean naturally deferential to “order.” Sport happens in a definable, quantifiable world of rules and referees and umpires and end zones and teams guided by coaches and managers. But there’s an unruly world of lonely individualism out there (and “in” there), and it’s a lot wilder and weirder and scarier than anything encountered on a soccer, football or baseball field. Just ask Albert Einstein.

Sport-watching and following (betting, handicapping) is a place that fans tend to live inside of. It’s a kind of haven or cathedral…a floating monastery. My experience is that sport fans are obviously literate but aren’t…how to say it?…burningly passionate about communing with worlds that exist outside their safety zone. Walk into any sports bar in the country and you can feel that sports-fan vibe — friendly and alert, amiable and ordered, but less learned, studied and complex than the one you get when you walk into the Harvard Club on West 44th.

Everybody laughed at that line in Repo Man about “the more you drive the less intelligent you are” but similar analogies tend to be frowned upon.