Monday, February 1, 2010

Super Brawl

Baseball, Basketball and Football all occupy a place in my reptilian brain. Baseball has a claim as our pastoral game and Basketball, the urban sport but nothing bumps up the testosterone level as Football.

I’m glad we’ve devised ways to sublimate aggression and set aside next Sunday to ritualize our collective animus. This gives me time to get in touch with my schoolyard bully, my latent brute and killer-instinct. What about my lethal shoe which ended many lives in mid-crawl? There are still those among us who put stones in snowballs, obedient to a distant command, as if it meant tomorrow’s meat.

Some of us change into our jerseys, don the helmet and shoulder pads, sit on the couch talking trash while wolfing down pizza and beer as we grunt and curse the big screen. We have all afternoon to grow fur and fangs and slam the pillow. Un-cage the beast; let him snarl and breathe fire. Great catharsis, it’s bred in the bone.

This is what I tell my wife: Relax, its just family time together. 130 million folks in a shared experience. Look at the sportsmanshp. These are college kids having some fun.




Football is a game of strategy, play books and assignments. It’s a brainy game. All about camaraderie and finesse. If a 300 pound line-backer happens to pile on, it must have been inadvertent.

It’s just theatre, really, with padded men re-enacting that battle of the first rock assault on the first cave. Look at the winner with his end-zone swagger just like a caveman pounding his chest.

If we are hard-wired as such, war as theatre trumps war as war. Before the Super Bowl, Christians were fed to lions or we slashed each other jostling to feed our beast. Of course, now, we would never resort to such violence; we just invade countries or bomb them with pilot-less planes from air conditioned, underground, un-disclosed air bases on far-away continents.

But I don’t suppose that gives the same release as men get, fighting for real estate on a gridiron, a yard here, an inch there with the clock running. It’s about territory, don’t you see. Even while super-powers make much over their publicized summit-huddles it’s really about going for the bomb and scoring with a Hail Mary. As the late coach Vince Lombardi, who could have been a general, famously said Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing particularly if we have money on it, as we do on our civilized way of life.

There may never be an armistice for that war we've declarded upon ourselves.

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