Beauty is in the ear of the beholder. A splat can be exhilarating (if you're playing paintball) or somewhat dispiriting (if you happen to be skydiving). In college basketball, as on TV game shows, it's good to hear the bell, bad to hear the buzzer. A bell (chiming 12 o'clock) begins Midnight Madness, while a buzzer ends March Madness. (Technically it's a horn, but who ever heard of a hornbeater?) In between is a six-month symphony for squealing sneakers, percussive dribbling, bleacher-stomping--and whistles.
A large part of football's appeal, as NFL Films understood early on, lies in the plastic-on-plastic clash of pads. Fifty pairs of cleats clattering down a tunnel and into a football stadium can sound like buffalo thundering across the plain. (As a kid, I was told that actual thunder was the sound of God bowling. And so, until very recently, I thought that the brand name AMF, engraved on a bowling ball, was God's monogram: All Mighty Father.)
Thoroughbred racing is an eargasm: the bugle call to post; the fire alarm spooking horses into a sprint; the hammering hooves; the auctioneer's call of the track announcer; the soft flutter of losing tickets borne on a breeze. But then all of sports is an endless soundscape--of roars, boos, organs, air horns, starter's pistols, ripping Velcro, the dueling grunts of a tennis match, vendor cries and popping champagne corks.
Which reminds us. Heard any good food lately? A grilling sausage hisses and pops like an old LP or logs in a fireplace. Add to this cacophony a farting squeeze bottle of mustard and the popping pop-top of a beer can and you've rivaled, for my money, Ode to Joy.
In fact, it is one.
? For a collection of Steve Rushin's columns, go to si.com/writers.