Sunday, February 03, 2013

I want cake and I want it now

Crazy sports fans (CC: 50%ChanceofRain)

I don’t get sports.

Really. I used to think my testosterone levels were low, or something. I just don’t get how we men can claim that women are illogical, can’t read maps, and are prone to fits of misguided, whimpering emotion, but then we can turn around and transform into primal, superstitious nitwits on the weekends, muttering magical incantations that we actually think will be effective over long distances and think that’s okay. There’s even plenty of research to suggest that spousal abuse spikes after our team loses, especially when they’re playing a traditional arch-rival or it’s during the playoffs. And no one’s hiding the fact this year that sex trafficking is a prominent theme wherever the Super Bowl happens to be. Apparently, the game in progress on the field isn’t enough for a certain category of fan.

I also have a problem with the industry that’s been built around recreation. We worry that our culture’s eroding, but how many billions are we spending on sports, watching sports, playing sports, and promoting sports? What percentage of a family budget is acceptable to allocate to team memorabilia? How much of our time is taken up with the pre game show, the game, the post game show, the post-postgame show, the commentary on the game on the radio the next day, the reminiscences years later?

That being said (and yes, I remember a few of Joe Montana’s passes), something happens on championship day. Maybe it’s some dormant strain of simian DNA deep in my bloodstream reactivating, but this is one of the few days every year when I go out of my way to try to find beer, salsa, and a comfortable seat. At least all at the same time. My chest gets a little hairier (and maybe my back does, too), I scratch myself, my IQ drops a few points, and I might even yell at the screen.

I used to claim I just watched this game for the commercials. That was true back when the commercials were good. Now I watch it for the game, but, admittedly, that’s probably only because the commercials have become so poor. Maybe today will be better. And no, I won't be watching Beyoncé. Or Beyoncè. Or whatever she is.

This year, we’re having people over. We’re watching the game together. Now there’s something I like about sports! It brings people together. It makes our world a little bit smaller. We like to talk about sports. We like to get excited in groups instead of alone. Maybe the extrovert in me should be cherishing this national holiday a little bit more.

And I have to admit that there’s something unique about the game this year. History is happening. I know I’ve read that the coaches would rather it not be mentioned, but it is, of course, unavoidable. These are not precisely rivals. These are brothers. They’re brothers who wrestled and fought and broke stuff like two alpha males growing up in the same house are prone to do, but they shed their rivalry years ago, became friends, and wound up in the same vocation. And they’re both (obviously) really good at it. And by the end of this evening, one of them will be a victor and one will be a loser. But they’ll still be brothers.

Maybe sports isn’t personal for me (most of the time). And maybe it’s a fantasy that we think it’s personal for us (that is, that “our” team is playing). But it’s personal for them. We’re going to see them on the TV screen today. Two brothers directing their teams to supremacy.

There’s also the pride issue for my personal favorite, the San Francisco 49ers. Jim Harbaugh has managed to make a quarterback change midseason and finally take this team back to the top, or at least one step from it. These guys are 5-0 in their Super Bowl appearances. Other teams have been more than five times, but no one with that many appearances can claim to be undefeated. This is exciting.

So I’ll be watching the brothers to see how they lead, and how they interact. I’ll be watching the statistics to see what historically interesting trivia gets generated. And I’ll be having a beer and some chili. I’ve joked with friends that while I’m unemployed I’ve put my entire life savings on Harbaugh today, so he’d better win.

If he doesn’t—I mean, if THAT one doesn’t--I’ll be in my man-cave, drenching my as-yet non-existent 9ers sweatshirt with my holy tears.

And eating cake. Now.