From the Editor

Whenever the currents of history begin to speed up, the rocks hemming them in with ever-increasing and bubbling pressure, there is a rush to be the first with the great idea. Whether it’s art or science or invention or even athletics, the first one holds not only the advantage that comes with being the first but also the acclaim.

Having the idea first does not, however, translate necessarily into having it best. When that cross-connection happens, the results can be miraculous. But many times – perhaps even nearly all of them – the first to crack the atmosphere will necessarily, either by fault of overweight or by lack of vision, tumble back earthward. And however that descent happens, it inspires and frightens those who follow.

So it is that I offer Agonica.

There is much movement now afoot to reclaim some elements seemingly lost in the literature of sport, and of writing generally. If the conveniences and availability of technology have allowed for unprecedented amounts of and approaches to coverage, they have not – it is abundantly clear – made it by definition better. And into that breach we run.

To do so with both noble intent and without irony is not easy. The smugness and detachment that has been adopted as the principal mode for communication anymore have so infected sports writing as to render it a mockery of itself. But rather than see this self-mockery as a shame, perhaps out of fear or out of a lack of genuine conceit or both, we have collectively come to see irony and affectation as somehow truer than the real thing. It’s as if in our attempts to inure ourselves from the sometimes drab, sometimes ugly, most times irreconcilable world we live in, we resort to a shameful habit of allowing the comforts of amused cynicism to dominate us.

In hopes of avoiding that trap, and with earnestness ill befitting someone of my generation and background, I build up Agonica as a refuge from the gales of irony. We will rescue from the clutches of mediocrity nothing less than the written word itself through the prism of that bastion of creativity and achievement: sport.

As fans, we learn to love games and the people that play them. As thinkers, we must find new ways, and better ways, in which to follow their exploits and understand the outcomes we witness. It won’t be easy. Barbarians gather at the gate. Armed with a stockpile of potent weapons: idiocy, disbelief, faithlessness, ironic misunderstanding and casualness. We will not be swayed, nor intimidated, however, into letting the potency of our foes deter us from our mission.

It is a war we arm ourselves to fight, but one worth fighting. At stake are noble goals: protecting the true heart from the poison of ambivalence, converting the ignorant into the knowing, discovering within us our truer selves, re-connecting with a passion and faith long misplaced and opening up a new way of looking at the world. Lofty goals, sure. But worth it.

Joshua Lars Weill


May 2013
Washington, DC