Thoughts on the Super Bowl

Obama and Boehner play footballI am out of town, thus the great slowdown in posts here. But I am not so unplugged as to not know that it is the biggest day of the year for Americans: Super Bowl Sunday. Here in the Bay Area, people are disappointed because two weeks ago, the 49ers lost in the last minute of the game against the Seattle Seahawks. I will admit, I was hoping for that outcome. I thought it would end the madness that is local fan behavior. But I was wrong.

Today’s game is between Seattle and the Denver Broncos. There are two ways that a fan could respond to this. There is the way that I look at it when I’m in a similar situation: root for the team that beat you with the assumption that at least you lost to the best team. That is not the way people around the Bay Area are responding.

The whole community, including public sources, are committed to what I think is more like the behavior of a spurned lover. They are rooting for Denver, but not because they want them to win; they just want Seattle to lose. It makes no sense to me. But then, being a fan of the local team doesn’t make any sense to me. Being the fan of a sports team is irrational regardless, but I would think people would have more idiosyncratic reasons for liking one team or another.

Like me. I don’t really care who wins the game today. But it does seem to me if you care about the 49ers, you would root for Seattle. After all, what if Seattle gets blown away today? That would say that the 49ers really suck. It ought to be an embarrassment for these people. After all, these people think they are somehow vested in how the “home” team performs. I will stick to my more idiosyncratic approach.

I might think differently if I liked football. But it still strikes me as the most boring game imaginable. And I don’t say that because I don’t understand the game. Whenever I watch it with fans, I am at least as on top of it as they are. But I don’t see why I should care about a game that is so planned out. And then the fact that it is played by a bunch of people who can’t even begin to be termed normal. And then the fact that it is violent, producing a charming side effect of brain injuries. But all of that is probably what makes football so popular. A violent and dangerous game played by a bunch of physical freaks? What’s not to like?

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Super Bowl

  1. When I moved to Saint Paul, 13 years ago or so, I’d lived in a different city every year for, like, six years. And I was tired of that. (Op cit: "The Big Country," Byrne, David, ed., 1978.)

    So before I left Portland I picked up a little book at Powell’s titled "How To Make Friends In A New City." It had some advice I strenuously avoided (like joining a church group.) It had one piece of advice I thought I could get behind; "root for the home team."

    So I bought another book, about football, so I could root for the Minnesota Vikings. I learned how the Xs and Os played out in football. I picked up a magazine describing the teams for 2000 and their players. I studied it. I went to a sports bar and watched a Vikings game. At a key moment, I mentioned to the guy next to me, "boy, the safety failed to double coverage on that play." The guy calmly said, "are you some kind of a fag or what?"

    I did continue watching football for a few more years, as I liked the drama of locally resented Black star players Randy Moss and Daunte Cunningham being extremely awesome at football. But eventually they left, and when they did, I stopped watching football. Now we know it leads to permanent disability, so I wouldn’t watch it even if it made me friends. (I had better luck with baseball; I tried with hockey, but God in Heaven, nobody who didn’t grow up wearing ice skates can possibly understand hockey. It’s like soccer for Canadians and Minnesotans. They’re nuts over it.)

    Point of rant? Your average football fan knows absolutely nothing about football. Yes, it would make more sense for 49er fans (who have some recent championships, I believe) to root for their vanquishing foe to beat the other team 56-0. That would prove that the 49ers are second best. Second best doesn’t count among sports fans, though; sports are rarely about appreciating human agility and athleticism, more about having a weird subsumed desire for power expressed in your affection for a team. Second place out of 32=last.

    I do like watching human agility and athleticism, so I still follow baseball. (It’s not immune from idiotic macho nut cases projecting their insecure manhood onto paid guys in colorful pajamas; just ask poor Steve Bartman.)

    Here’s a fabulous video. It’s really sentimental (I choked up regardless) until the end; the end knocks it out of the park. Happy Super Sunday!

    [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mR-tbOxlhvE[/youtube]

  2. @JMF – Yeah, I run into that with football and basketball because I was very into them when I was a kid. I’m shocked by the ignorance of fans. It took me a long time to get to the point where I feel I know more about baseball than most. And I’m with you on baseball. I love the game, although I’m not that keen on MLB. I’d rather watch the minor leagues or college. But watching the major league players is a thing of beauty. They are like magicians in the field. But I don’t root for any particular team, even though I do have a fondness for the Giants because I have fond memories of watching Willie Mays at Candlestick Park.

    I don’t think that video is sentimental, but I know what you mean. It is very moving. And I had no idea where it was going. It’s brilliant.

  3. So, I took a nap, but I understand Seattle killed the 49ers. Hooray, I s’pose. Can we ban this f-ing sport, already?

    Very glad you liked the video. I get into the racist logo/nickname debate all the time with sports fans, and, inevitably, some will say they know Natives who don’t care about the issue. (Reasonable enough, there are many more serious issues affecting the Native population.)

    But, to me, that’s not the point. I don’t care if Natives find the issue important or not. (Quite clearly, many do, but that’s not what I’m getting at.) They didn’t do it to us; we did it to them. It’s not their job to fix it; it’s ours.

    You’ve known, I’ll guess, violent criminals and domestic abusers. (If you don’t know any, good for you.) The victims of violence and abuse can choose to carry it for a lifetime or let it go; that’s up to them; and there are ways to live with both approaches. The perpetrators of violence and abuse have a much more stark decision to make. You either admit that what you did was wrong, or you don’t. If you don’t, you will never get better. It just won’t happen.

    It’s important that Japan acknowledge what it did to China (even though China could crush Japan like a grape, now.) It’s important that Turkey admit what it did to the Armenians. It’s important that Germany acknowledge what it did to Jews. (it’d be nice if Israel admitted what it’s been doing to Palestinians, but that won’t happen in our lifetime.)

    America should grow the frack up and admit what it did to Natives. We never have. Nor have we ever talked honestly about slavery, lynchings, segregation, the regime of pure terror we imposed on Black people. These willfully ignorant myths about our national history are what allow us to continue killing anyone, anywhere, at will with virtually no public umbrage.

    Acknowledging that the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians logos are horribly racist isn’t as crucial for the handful of remaining Natives as it is for us. We’re the perps; we’re the abusers. No wonder the fight over these nicknames causes so much consternation among fans (nobody cared a rat’s ass when the NBA’s Washinton Bullets changed their nickname to the equally lame Wizards.) Changing those nicknames and logos means admitting that we’ve been racist murderers since day one; not something anybody reads in history textbooks.

    Oh, well. Sorry to rant on the subject. Super Sunday grinds my gears. I know a lot of sports fans and they are hugely knowledgable on many subjects. The stuff they don’t know makes me crazy. I actually read someone recently saying that, since he was of Irish heritage, he doesn’t mind the Notre Dame "Fighting Irish" nickname and so Natives shouldn’t mind "Redskins." I tried pointing out that if England had succeeded in mostly eliminating the Irish, "Fighting Irish" would be a horribly offensive nickname for a soccer team in London’s suburbs. No response; no idea what I was talking about.

    You really have to dig deep to learn our history; it isn’t taught. That’s a shame, and an outrage, and we’ll keep repeating it until it is.

  4. @JMF – I think the reason that conservatives bristle at issues like the "redskins" logo is that they don’t want to admit that anything is wrong. I’ve written about this "end of history" thinking before. In 1960s, conservatives thought that [i]of course[/i] slavery was wrong, but all this civil rights stuff just wasn’t necessary. So it isn’t the specific issue of "redskins" or anything else. It is just the broader idea that [i]now[/i] everything is just fine. This is why conservatives continue to vote against equal pay laws. Everything is just fine–it only requires minor tweaks. Anything more might bring on the revolution. It’s amazing thinking, because they ought to see that they always look back a generation and are embarrassed. I couldn’t live with myself…

    It was actually the Broncos who got beaten today. 49ers fans should be glad of this outcome, given that they only lost to the Seahawks in the last minute of the game. It really was a tossup. But they won’t be. They seem to have an irrational hatred of the team. But since they have an irrational love of the 49ers, why not?

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