Saturday, February 04, 2012

The Giants are in the Super Bowl, and I don't give a damn -- who'd-a thunk it? (Is it finally time to attack those DVR-stored "Portlandia" episodes?)


Anything that causes "my" hometown Giants' head coach, Tom Coughlin, agita is OK in my book. It's hard not to have some grudging professional respect for Patriots coach Bill Belichek, who has successfully invented and reinvented the team a bunch of times in his tenure, but he's pretty much a prick too.

by Ken

Maybe it's a function of getting old, though from what I observe, old folks make up one of the more rabidly gung-ho-er elements of the NFL fan base, or maybe it's a matter of my having absorbed the lesson that "my" sports teams aren't in any sense "mine," but are the playthings of super-rich elite types and corporations who think I should be grateful for the privilege of serving them as a customer base. But where the prospect of a Giants Super Bowl appearance would once have had me strung out with excitement and expectation -- the first two certainly did -- this one doesn't mean anything to me. I paid hardly any attention this season, except to enjoy the discomfiture of that dreadful scumbag coach Tom Coughlin when the Giants were suffering one of their now-standard spells of sub-crap playing. Anything that gives Tom Coughlin agita is A-OK in my book.

I might add that, with respect to my hypothesized reasons for loss of interest, the second one interests me, because I've noticed how drastically my interest is waned in the sport I once really cared about, baseball. I think maybe I've never recovered from the season in which I paid my first (and now, in all likelihood, last) visits to the then-new "New" Yankee Stadium and Citi Field (new home of the New York Mets). Even before I managed to set foot in either joint, the message came through loud and clear that these palaces weren't built for the likes of me -- they were built to separate suckers from their dough, with certain obligatory allowances made for the necessary nuisance of having baseball games played on the premises.

Probably there are other Americans used to not giving a damn about the Super Bowl, but I wasn't prepared for how alienating an experience it is, while so much of the rest of the country is building to such a fevered pitch. Meanwhile I haven't even been able to enjoy what I used think was the most entertaining media week of the year: that second week before the Big Game, when there's only one game left to be played in the season and by then everything that can be said about it has already been said about 16 million times, and the reporters are reduced to interviewing one another. Oh wait, I'm forgetting one thing: Tthere's always the day's update to the teams' injury reports.

Lost in my grumpiness, I was temporarily buoyed by a piece circulated by Nation of Change: "Four Reasons to Watch the Super Bowl: Joe Hill, Joe Pa, Tebow, Wee Brains," by Robert Lipsyte, whom I know to be a serious person with a serious background in writing about sports. I'm going to have to say, though, that Bob's reasons didn't help me.
Most Americans won’t need a justification to watch Sunday’s game, but if you’re a reader you might think, even in passing, that celebrating the holiest day of violence, consumerism, and class warfare on your couch is a betrayal of your values or a waste of your time. You might even imagine that it would be better to take a hike, read a book, or meditate.

Not this Sunday, buster. It’s an election season. You need to watch this game to fully understand how jobs, religion, leadership, and healthcare dominate every American contest.

I'm already dubious, but let's take them point by point.

1. Joe Hill will be playing
Where else will be you be able to watch more than 100 young men, most of them African-American, working for high wages in a totally unionized shop? True, their jobs are dangerous (more on that later) and relatively short-term (typically three or four years), but they are also high profile. They can lead to TV gigs, even political office. . . .

Even with a progressive attitude, watching the Super Bowl, which seems to float on rivers of oil --- think car ads -- and beer, is not exactly like holding a OWS-style general assembly in the red zone. Nevertheless, it’s a terrific visual of the American class divide. In their skyboxes, usually in jacket and tie, eating, drinking, and high-fiving -- or scowling -- are the one-percenters who own the team, which is usually not their only source of income.

Below them, on the field, are their employees (many of them temporary one-percenters, given the median league salary of at least $560,000), using up the capital of their bodies. If you want to root for the Patriots or the Giants, fine. I’ll be rooting for the working class.

Huh? How do you do that, root for the working class? However the game unfolds, the working class wins up to a point, but (a) the upper echelons of the players (Tom Brady, say) aren't working class by any stretch, and (b) as you've already pointed out, the game belongs to the one-percenters. How do you manage to not root for them? (Perhaps by not watching the damned game?)

2. Tim Tebow will not be playing
Thank God. The season’s most hyped player -- the NFL published its first magazine last month with Tebow on the cover -- has the looks, personality, and backstory of the clean-living, principled, athletic role model we’ve been told we need to help raise our children. . . .

This past season, as a Denver Bronco rookie quarterback, Tebow carried his team to the division playoffs despite his shortcomings as a passer and field tactician. As the saying goes, all he could do was win. . . . While his aggressive evangelism turned off some people, no one could deny his confidence and fierce competitiveness on the field, and his humility and niceness off it. . . . Tebow is too true to be good. His religious principles may eventually even get in the way of money-making. . . .

If he were playing Sunday, it undoubtedly wouldn’t be the Super Bowl, but the Tebowl.

Granted, but as you say, he's not playing tomorrow. And while the guy kind of annoys me, I don't care about him.

3. JoePa will be there
Once held up as the gold standard of college football coaching, now as the hero of a classical tragedy, the late Joe Paterno will be represented on Sunday by three players and his successor as head coach at Penn State. They will be reminders of what Paterno really represented beneath the iconic image. . . .

Yeah, but one thing you don't mention in connection with "what Paterno really represented" is what's always claimed to have been his great stress on his players' academic performance. Was that maybe not so? Perhaps that's worth saying.

4. You can occupy the Super Bowl
One of the Penn State trustees who voted to fire Paterno, Kenneth C. Frazier, said this: “[E]very adult has a responsibility for every other child in our community. We have a responsibility for ensuring that we can take every effort that’s within our power not only to prevent further harm to that child but to every other child.” . . .

This metamorphoses into a discussion of the heightened concern about the physical punishment absorbed by football players.
[I]f you believe in taking responsibility for “every other kid,” go organize in your community against helmet-wearing tackle football -- at the very least until high-school age. (If you let your own kid play peewee football, you should be charged with child abuse.) It’s hard to go up against Jock Culture, which you’ll be watching in its full power and glory on Sunday. Then again, it’s hard to go up against the banks and the war machine, too. It’s time, in other words, to occupy football.

Yeah, I guess, but again, I don't see how that's a reason for me to watch the game. And no, I don't want to hear a word, not a single effing word, about this year's Super Bowl telecast commercials, or about the too-long pregame yawnorama, or any wardrobe malfunctions or any other damn make-believe event that may happen.


. . . may be Thrill City. Maybe I just haven't found the right attention wavelength, but after entirely missing the first season of this much-heralded show, I found the first couple of episodes of the second season all but unbearably tedious. It's not that I hold much of a brief for the people who are New Age artsy-type people being made fun of, but can anyone figure out from the show why they're being made fun of? No, wait, "fun" isn't the right word -- if I could detect any fun happening, I would probably already have watched those piling-up unwatched episodes.

Portlandia creators-stars Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein portay two among their tediously infinite number of, er, zany characters, and you just know that with hilarious characters like these, this scene has to be a laff riot.

(And what's the deal with that show with that show with David Cross, who's usually at least somewhat interesting, which IFC is show afterwards? Is there supposed to be something amusing about that? I've got episodes of that piling up too, and find it hard to imagine ever watching another.)

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At 8:24 PM, Blogger coyotebanjo said...

Sorry, Ken. Bill Belichick is not a prick. He's just smarter than most people in the game.b

At 8:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Portlandia makes me cringe.

Oh wait! It's all true!

-Portland resident

At 11:48 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Dr. Chris: As I think Bill B has amply demonstrated, it's utterly possible to be both smarter than most people in the game and a total prick.



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