Another installment in my continuing series on cricket citations from Aaron Sorkin’s oeuvre (see here and here). If you watch the finale of season 1 (“What Kind of Day Has It Been“), you’ll hear President Bartlett try to decide between a women’s softball game and a cricket match between Bermuda and Scotland. (Question: Does the POTUS have access to a special sports channel that puts the most obscure events on-air? First, which American TV channel shows cricket, and second, why would this channel air a match between Bermuda and freaking Scotland?) Bartlett then says he’d rather watch the softball game because “bright” as he may be (he has a Nobel prize in economics), every time someone tries to explain cricket to him, he wants to smash a teapot.
From the (admittedly small) sample we’ve accumulated on cricket sightings from Sorkin, we can identify some overall themes: a) Cricket is really “complicated,” and it’s funny how complicated it is; b) Precisely because it is so complicated, it appeals on a cerebral level (all Sorkin characters are smart and obsessive, so they should like cricket if it’s complicated); c) There’s that whole Anglophilia thing going for it (which appeals to the privileged class most Sorkin characters belong to); and d) Even though perhaps a billion people know and like cricket, it is still obscure in Sorkin’s world (i.e., America). The game thus becomes another piece of trivia that characters use incessantly as they try to understand (and master) a world that is always too big and unknowable for them. (Two unrelated examples from this episode: an extended discussion about how a space shuttle’s doors open and close, and a musing about why the eagle on the national seal faces one way and not the other.)