February 3, 2008
By T.W. Burger
It’s Super Bowl Sunday. For those of you who, like me, find sports mystifying, (I know you’re out there!) this is typically a season for nodding one’s head, smiling, and appearing interested in what is going on, lest one’s associates think one retarded or gay or both.
As far as sports go, I’m sort of like one of those putative Christians who only show up at church on Christmas and Easter.
We all know people who can sit around for hours and recite statistics on assorted persons numbered among America’s warrior class. They watch sports TV and hang on every utterance of interviews with star players, or least to the ones who can actually talk in sentences.
I have always thought that sports is a big topic for men because it gives them a chance to hang out together and not have to talk about personal things or about something they might have read, since that would mean, you know, reading something outside of the sports section.
That said, this afternoon, we’ll be packing up a Crockpot full of meatballs in chili sauce and heading for a Superbowl Party. It’s an annual event in which a bunch of characters who all worked at the same newspaper at one time get together and catch up, eat good food, drink a little beer, watch the Superbowl commercials and, from time to time, glance at the game.
Frankly, I have always been surprised that I am not at all a fan of the game. After all, I grew up in the Deep South, in Georgia. In that part of the world, football is like a religion; only folks take it more seriously. Our high school was a state champion in one league or another. I can remember, I think, some local clergyman leading everybody in prayer before a big game against an arch rival, beseeching the Lord’s help in whupping those hicks from Tucker.
Coach Sellers was always after me to play because of my size – I was more than six feet tall and around 220 – but I made the tactical error of telling him I didn’t like football at all, that it bored me.
I ran a lot of extra laps and did extra pushups after that. Funny, how physical education professionals use exercise to punish their charges and then express amazement that the kids come out disliking exercise.
The operative word here is “Duh.”
I played neighborhood football, which was fun because the rules went out the window when everybody got excited. I was the biggest kid in Homewood Hills, and once had my own team pile on me because the other side’s players were too young and small to do the trick. It was great fun. We didn’t have cheerleaders, but our dogs gave us enthusiastic support, often joining in on the action.
If you think regular football is hard, try it with the neighbors’ 100-pound Airedale/Grizzly mix using you for a chew-toy.
I really wasn’t very good at football, unless you count merely getting in the way. I make a good obstacle.
So, I’ll join the happy millions this evening, watching the Patriots play, er, somebody. I’ll have a couple of brews, some meatballs, some of Heidi’s baked hot wings, and God knows what else. And, as I do every year, I’ll ask my more knowledgeable friends what this or that ruling or comment made on screen means.
And wonder why they don’t use Airedales.