Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Longest Day

The most-watched television event of the year is, by far, the Super Bowl. I cannot fathom what all the fuss is about.

Don't get me wrong: I thoroughly enjoy football, but only the college variety. There's something about Fall afternoons on campuses, most of which have a century of tradition permeating the air. The pros may monopolize airtime, but they cannot replicate the Red River Shootout, the Little Brown Jug or the greatest rivalry in all of sportsdom, the Army-Navy game. The NFL gives us Redskins/Cowboys or Bengals/Browns, at least twice each season. Yawn.

Professional football teams don't play in the Swamp, Happy Valley or between the hedges. Instead, their labors take place in publicly-funded arenas bearing the names of banks or insurance firms. I heard a statistic some time back, that if one took all the money used to finance these palaces over the past 20 years, it would be sufficient to remodel every public school in the US. Wow.

These teams are, but for a few, owned by the less-than-the-1%-crowd who have no shortage of narcissism to fuel their quest for that ultimate ego-boost, the Super Bowl ring. The public faces of NFL ownership are not the Mara or Rooney families or the community-owned Packers; instead, we think of Jerry Jones or Daniel Snyder, who only compel me to paraphrase the title of a Fitzgerald story about what is really as big as the Ritz.

Just once, I would relish the prospect of seeing a head coach on the sidelines, without headphones, with a smile on their face. Gosh boys, it's a game, after all; it's not war and peace. I do confess my gratitude that Jeff Greenfield perfectly nailed the resemblance of the Giants coach to Edgar Kennedy, the master of the slow burn (if that name doesn't ring a bell, look him up on imdb; you will recognize his face). In fairness, I have heard Tom Coughlin has done wonderful charitable work; I cannot imagine his counterpart doing the same.

The players: for every Tim Tebow, there are many more of the type represented by Ray Lewis, Lawrence Taylor or Ben Roethlisberger. You say Roger Staubach, I will respond with a Plaxico Burriss or Dexter Manley. In short, the NFL is not known for great citizenship among its members. Role models? I think not.

On language: not only did we not need the term "red zone", I'm pretty certain we don't need the corresponding graphics on the tube either. I have also noticed two other tendencies among announcers: the need to say both first and last names for every player mentioned, plus an annoying habit of saying "as we said at the top of the broadcast...yadda yadda yadda." I guess we mere rubes were not astute enough to catch it the first time, so we are reminded, ad nauseum.

Finally, there is the time element involved. During my woolly days, I recall sitting, stopwatch in hand, clocking the actual time they spent playing this game on Sundays. The totals ran anywhere from 9 to 12 minutes. They then squeeze all this action into a 3+ hour commercial for beer and pickup trucks. If you don't believe this sport is slow-moving, think about the last time you actually attended a pro football game. The bulk of the time in that 3+ hour window was spent watching very large men grunting and groaning, jawing at each other and the officials, getting in and out of piles and waiting for the end of the tv-time outs. With the increase in the number of passes each game, I imagine the actual playing time has decreased.

I think I'll skip the big event this weekend, perhaps to watch a Woody Allen movie, or, god forbid, a film by Pedro Almodovar, who seems to tell stories about women quite well. Or, I could read a book or clean my home. As for those ads, those multi-million dollar promotional spots, well, I can watch them online, saving myself hours of ennui in the process. Then, Monday morning, someone will tell me who won the big game. I do not think life will be any less rewarding as a result.

Monday, January 30, 2012

First Shot


Several years ago, someone gave me a coffee mug with the words "Everyone's entitled to my opinion" emblazoned upon it. I fear that was an accurate description. My daughters tell me that I should share some of these little gems with an unwitting world. So, here goes:

I have opinions about so many subjects - gum chewing, use of the word iconic, why people feel the need to stop in the middle of store aisles (mostly at Wal-Mart), why people don't put shopping carts in corrals and the overall incivility of our society.
Oh wait, the few phrases prior to that last one added to it. Let's wind up a different tack: the beauty of random acts of kindness, a sacrifice bunt perfectly executed, the wonder of those early signs of cognitive skills in an infant, the sound of my children's laughter, which remains a thrill after all these years.
So, I'll come up with things to say, as often as I can. I look forward to hearing what you think!