What, if anything, separates art from sports? Can't a Drew Brees spiral inspire a man as much as a Matisse? These are the questions one thinks of when confronting the work of Bercules, a Vine user who has gained notoriety recently for a series of posts on the short-video-sharing-service where he conducts #BatTricks. They're impressive displays of skills and have rightfully gotten Bercules attention from various media outlets.
But is this sports? Let's examine the newest #BatTrick, which was posted this morning.
This has a lot of components that one finds in sports: hand-eye coordination, jumping, doing stuff with your feet, and hitting a ball with a stick. Leave that last one out, and you're describing ballet. What Bercules does is baseball-adjacent, and his skills are probably the result of playing, practicing, and being coached in baseball. But, like the Dude Perfect guys or that backup QB from UConn, Bercules takes elements from his sport and melds them into something else. Just as Johnny Mac will never face a 3rd-and-long situation with the game on the line and have to throw a tennis ball into a garbage can that's 50 yards away, Bercules (his real name, via USA Today, is Johnny Burke) is never going to have to spin, kick the ball up, twirl the bat, and then make solid contact while at the plate. The things that people do in trick shot videos are neat, but obviously ephemeral. In other words, what Bercules does is in no way useful, but it's so freaking cool that it's there—and isn't that the definition of art?
David Matthews is still a few months away from being able to spin a basketball on his finger. Follow him on Twitter.