With all the hype that accompanies the largest single sporting event in the world, you will think I’m positively un-American when I make my confession. That is, I could live with out it.
You heard me. I could live without the game of football. And now that I’ve blurted out that little inconvenient truth à la Al Gore, I will be seeking a spot in the federal witness protection program immediately.
If my confession has you ready to overturn the water cooler before banging your collective heads on your desks, I’m sorry. I just don’t get the obsession with this particular sport. From what I can see, it’s simply a bunch of big, musclebound guys that could kill you with one eyelid who can’t make up their minds about what they want to play.
One minute, they’re playing Keep Away. A player will rear back and throw the ball clear down the field to a guy in a matching suit. Meanwhile, the other team is jumping up and down in the middle, waving their arms around, trying to get that ball.
This, by the way, is nothing like the game of Keep Away we used to play at recess. These guys play rough. They actually go after the guy with the ball, and they try to make him eat dirt. Dirt, mind you!
We would’ve never gotten by with that at Elreka Elementary. No way.
They certainly get bored quick, because next thing you know, they switch over to a serious game of tag. They really put themselves into it. Even the fellows on the sidelines get caught up in the excitement, running in place as though that will help their teammates on the field. It reminds me of a certain mister who bobs and weaves when he’s playing video games as if lunging with the controller will help him vaporize the bad guy.
Anyway, just as I’m getting into the game of tag they’ve got going, they pull another switcheroo and start playing Kick the Can.
Frankly, I don’t know how their moms do it. Sit still, that is, while all this is going on. It’s one thing, you see, if your kid is the one doing. It’s quite another if your kid is the one being done unto. If that’s my son getting his can kicked on that field, this mama’s going down and kicking some can herself.
That’s why it’s good none of the cubs are football players. I would spend the entire game with my eyeballs pasted between their father’s shoulder blades because he’d be sitting on me to keep me from embarrassing the family name.
Oh, and speaking of kicking, that’s the other game they play. Only their version of kickball looks different from what we used to play at my elementary school of record. There, everyone got a turn to kick. Here, if you’re not the man with the golden leg, you won’t put a toe on that ball. You’re chopped liver. (Which, incidentally, is another thing I could live without. But I digress.)
Another big drawback to this game is where it’s played. As in outdoors. In the elements. This means that in the summer when the season begins, you and a few thousand of your closest friends are squished, cheek by jowl, in a packed stadium, sweating like stuck pigs.
If you had more than three square inches of wooden bench to sit on, this wouldn’t be such a hardship. But when quarters are that tight, you’re bound to end up wearing drink stains and getting popcorn down your neck because your neighbor forgot to put his snacks down before leaping up to do the wave.
On Foam Finger Day, it’s nearly impossible to eat your hot dog because you keep getting beat about the head and neck with the goofy things. The enthusiastic fan next to you is wearing most of your ketchup on his anyway. Then, just as you’re about to make one more attempt, the kid on the other side has to go potty, so you have to get up and let him out. Again.
Eventually it turns cold. The wind blows. It rains. Your foam finger gets soggy, and you still have stains on your shirt and popcorn down your neck. It’s just that now the stains are cold and the popcorn is wet. If it weren’t for all the fun you’re having, you would vow to stay home next season and watch the life cycle of the walrus on the Discovery Channel.
And that’s my analysis of the national pastime. If I’ve alienated half of my readership, I apologize and throw myself on the mercy of the court. I simply ask that if you’re traveling through Biloxi or Tupelo or Canton someday and you have a curly-headed waitress by the name of Jane Smith, please be kind. Leave her a generous tip.
This column ran mere days after the local favorite, the Colts, suffered an ignominious defeat (i.e., went down in flames) at the hands of the Saints. Thankfully, "Jane Smith" reports that she's not been accosted by angry fans or stiffed on any tips. Yet.