American Society’s obsession with sports, or specifically Professor of Mathmatics Mike Axtel’s obsession, was the focus of Thursday’s Chapel Talk. Hear the full Podcast of Axtel’s talk here.

Axtel, mixing readings with his own dry wit, talked about the importance many people put on sports and what it might say about them. He talked about his dislikes and likes in the sports world then broke down three values he sees in sports: glory, team identification, and self identification.

He equated glory to ego and noted people often use sports to achieve those attributes. He talked about his own involvement in sports. “ESPN is perhaps the only network my television is tuned to,” he joked. But also noted he teaches as an individual, does research as an individual, and with no children or wife, doesn’t belong to a lot of groups.

Axtel noted how team sports give people a sense of belonging and how individual accomplishment is “embarrassing” in a loss but simply a part of a team win.

He contrasted different motivations for the self identification in sports. While some seek out ‘the zone’ to be heroes other find a loss of self-awareness focusing on the sport that is comforting.

Next week’s Chapel Talk will be delivered Tuesday at 11:10 instead of Thursday. President Patrick White will give the fourth of four talks on the College’s 175th Anniversary.