The facts of life are conservative, and in no sphere is that truism more manifest than in the world of sport. In the games we play, the same rules are meant to apply to all — and we are outraged at the injustice when they are not. There are winners and losers, and we don’t agonize over the self-esteem of those who do not prevail: We expect them to learn from defeat and improve. Sports train the body and mind, and channel what might otherwise be destructive energies toward an affirming purpose. Athletes acknowledge their limitations and, in general, play within them: The slap hitter does not swing for the fences, the lumbering power forward does not lead the break. But, while man is not perfectible, the sports fan knows that he is — in fleeting moments, on any given Sunday — capable of perfection. Thus sports have the capacity not only to entertain, but to inspire. In celebration of the power of sports to uplift the culture — and mindful, too, of their equal power to debase it — we bring you these brief chronicles of our sporting times.