Sunday, January 04, 2015

Super Duper Losers
a stream-of-consciousness pigskin rant

I used to not care for (American) football. I don't think it was for the same reasons that most people dislike watching the sport, which I generally hear  to be along the lines of it's "boring" (too much down time, play stoppage, etc.) or "confusing" (lots of rules and penalties and whatnot), or possibly that it's a giant waste of money with which some people are far too obsessed. That last may be true, but none of these were the reasons I didn't watch it for years. Instead, I just thought it was sexist--the one sport (in my world, having grown up in the U.S. as I did) that not only was blatantly male and specifically excluded women from playing (except for the occasional newsmaking teenage girl with chutzpah and mad skillz who makes her school team and grabs headlines for a few days, but I'm talking systemically excludes women) but also built up an entire substitute "sport" (cheerleading) for the girls, which in turn launched its own thousand debates about what's really a sport and what gets short shrift and the whole thing was annoying to me because at the time I was only looking at the idea of equal opportunity as a social thing. But in terms of sports, it's just a physical thing. You see, the male and female bodies are different. (I feel more and more strongly about *this* every time the gender debate escalates to a place where sex differences are entirely thrown out the window.) I don't have a problem with those bodies doing different things that cater to different strengths, namely, male upper body strength and female hips/thighs/different-center-of-gravity-and-flexibility strength. For example: ballet. It is incredible, and the skills and talents involved in the male-female lifts and other ballet feats totally involve different body types, all making one beautiful ballet dance. In that light, I totally reconsidered and now accept football as a sport designed to capitalize on the bulky male body's peak performance and I don't really care anymore that it exists (although I OBVIOUSLY agree that women and women's sports should be given equal access, opportunity, funding, etc.)  What's weird is that I, who grew up doing gymnastics, was unable to make sense of this back then, seeing as gymnastics is entirely constructed around the different strengths of the different male and female body types. But, like I said, the whole social aspects took precedence (as they SO often do with football) in the debate and so I didn't care for it. NOT to mention the fact that I went to a fabulous, storied football school (USC) during its worst couple of football seasons in recent memory, so my best chance at fandom glory was also shot. (I re-engaged with my Trojan football love, too, post-late-'90s, after graduation. I do enjoy the college football, I do.)

Anyway, so I didn't use to watch much professional American football and on top of that Phoenix  didn't even have an NFL team in my early childhood and then we got the Cardinals and then they sucked and then I moved away and everyone in Phoenix had just kept always being Cowboys (mostly) or Broncos or 49ers fans (or possibly fans of the team from whatever Midwestern state they hailed from)  As a youngster I'd thought about maybe being a Broncos fan because I liked orange and blue...but nothing ever really came of that. So then I lived in L.A., which had its own NFL issues, and when I moved to Boston, while the Patriots were (are) undeniably great, I moved there just in time for the Red Sox to become awesome and lift the curse and win their World Series so all Boston sports excitement was all about that. Then I went to Korea. You see, no NFL football team ever took hold, really, mentally or emotionally for me, even as I stopped hating the whole inequality thing.

I might add that now I am in Chicago where I am so amused  by the Bears fans and their inability to comprehend how their team could possibly have a losing season when these fans are so clearly entitled to be given a winning season and the Chicago Tribune has about sixteen writers on staff dedicated to telling us all about that every day on the front page (not just of the sports section, I mean the front page front page) that I could never actually become a fan of the local team; it would ruin all my schadenfreude fun.

When I lived in New York, I thought about being a Jets fan, especially the one year I lived down the street from their practice place, but then again, I loathed Long Island. The last few years spending time with Brian I've idly paid attention to the Lions, those lovable losers, but I haven't really committed. Instead, I basically just circled back around to my hometown and decided I might as well like the Cardinals. Like, when they went to the Super Bowl? That was ridiculously awesome! Of course I rooted for them! And people I knew in New York who also knew me from Massachusetts-California or whatever were like, "Arizona? How does that fit in?" and I'm all like whatever people, I'm totally allowed to root for them (even though I hadn't bothered to do so for a couple intervening decades) and especially the last few years as we've been living in various countries but hanging out with sports fans and someone needs to stand up for the team from Arizona, yo.

The point is (bet you thought we'd never get there) that all year I've been delighted by the Arizona Cardinals' performance and their playoffs and even Super Bowl potential but then someone started killing off all our quarterbacks and it looked grim but then we thought, you know, the Panthers?! We can do this! Only we couldn't.

And then to make things worse, Brian's Lions had to go and lose after a promising first half of their game today to, of all things, "America's team" (groan. I will NOT consider adopting the Cowboys, ever). And with that, I have lost interest in the Super Bowl and will now only watch, if I deign to at all, for the Katy Perry halftime show.

Also, I hate the word "belly."

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