The Not-So-Super Bowl

Today is the Superbowl, and the Baltimore Ravens aren't playing after another inexplicable loss to their arch-rivals (I won't mention their names here, but they're the current AFC champions.)  But that's not why I won't be watching the Super Bowl (except for the commercials, of course.)  I really hate football, and I have some actual reasons.

1) There are way too many rules. When I expressed frustration about this last week, while trying to follow the game, my dad mentioned that the number of rules governing play has probably doubled in the past 10 years.  I get the basic system, but from a logical perspective, it seems like at times they stop the clock, carefully set up the play and restart it only after the ball is in the air -- and at others, the clock is running while they're all standing around looking at each other.  My mom was confused by the play clock, which apparently debuted just a couple of years ago.  And that thing about ending the game when there are several minutes left, while one team stalls for the remaining time?  That's cowardly and lame.  Give me baseball any day.

2) It's all about making money. Despite my love for baseball (in my view, it and basketball and soccer are the only real sports -- sorry, George Carlin) I don't follow the Orioles either.  I used to be the kind of fan that could spout statistics about every player, but after the extended baseball strike of 1994 (I was thirteen when it began) I lost interest.  It occurred to me that everyone involved with professional sports has an ulterior motive, and many of them are also just jerks.  College is a little better; I love to watch high school sports, or better yet, Little League.  Those kids are enjoying themselves for sheer love of the game, and I'm rooting for them to stave off the rabid scout-hunting coaches and parents for as long as they can.

3) Football is synonymous with injury. The average career?  Three and a half seasons.  Unlike other sports, which produce injuries as an unintended consequence, football seems designed to produce as many as possible.  The object of the game is to get the ball, and if getting the ball means you have to jump on top of another guy's head to do so, then jump on his head already!  They basically put on as much equipment as possible to protect themselves, and then dive into a pile of bodies with their fingers crossed.  Last week when Willis McGahee was driven off the field strapped to a board, I saw a number of other players -- from both teams -- kneeling, heads bowed in prayer.  It was touching to see how concerned they were, and I have to assume that part of the prayer went, "Please, God.  Not me."

4) The NFL could care less. A pension is available beginning at three years, but a full pension doesn't kick in until age 55 -- by which time the majority of ex-players are dead, to say nothing of the aimless, foggy lives they lead until then.  After suffering multiple concussions, fractures and other injuries that are patched up with quick-fix solutions designed to get as much use out of the players as possible, most ex-players can't even concentrate through a full episode of the Simpsons, much less hold down a steady job.  Their massive salaries pay their medical bills for a few years, and after that, the player's union might grudgingly help out from time to time, but they're largely forgotten as soon as they cease to bring in viewers and ad revenue.   (I didn't make this up; most of it came from an article originally published in Men's Journal about a year ago, which I can't find online, but get a copy if you can.)

That's where I'm coming from. Consumerist, barbaric and disrespectful of humanity.  Enjoy the Hot Wings, though!  And if you claim to love the game, think about a donation to a charity like like Mike Ditka's Gridiron Greats that will help support the players you're cheering for today, after they're worn out and disabled.

I am still celebrating today; it's the feast day of my patron saint, St. Brigid of Kildare.  She's known for founding several monasteries in Ireland and helping to spread St. Patrick's influence -- and once, according to legend, turned an entire bathtub of water into beer.  So, in honor of that miracle, I plan to have a few this afternoon.