Sunday Football?! On Serendipity?!
It would definitely come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that I did indeed make a point of watching the Pittsburgh Steeler game on Sunday. Did I suddenly discover a hidden joy in football? Have I decided that I don't have enough light entertainment in my life? Do I need yet another distraction? The answer to all of those questions is "no". I haven't had any revelations that compel me to direct my attention to sports on television. Sure, I remain open to playing games that might entail me to run around a bit, but I don't intend to shift my energies in any voyeuristic way. You won't catch me dropping the names of the "local" professional athletes anytime soon.
Of course I realize that explaining my lack of interest in the pigskin opens me to charges of hypocrisy. Yes, I have admitted to watching hockey in the past. I've even described my allegiance to a specific team, and have kept abreast of player transactions and salary cap management. Still the truth is that I haven't watched more than a few periods of the game over the last couple of years. I simply can't justify the expenditure of time any more. However, I do have an interest in keeping my "blue team-American male" card, so I make it a point to remain minimally knowledgeable about hockey. At least that way I can fall into conversation with strangers in bars if need be.
When I got a text message from a friend who owns an area restaurant inviting me to watch the Steelers/Patriots showdown on his new big-screen, I decided that it was worth the trip. After all, he promised that there would be food and libation provided gratis. I invited some guys that I knew were Steeler fans, and that had never been to my buddy's business before. I knew I'd get the opportunity to see a lot of people that I'm close with, but haven't seen in awhile. The stars were aligned... what can I say? I wasn't at all disappointed, as I did indeed see folks that I've been missing recently. Between the rounds the waitress brought by, and the spread of food laid out for the occasion, I was pretty happy.
I can't tell you what the final score was. I know that the home team won. I probably watched about three plays during the entire thing. At one point, some lumbering guy was breaking for the end zone in what looked like a slow motion replay. I guess there was a turnover of some kind. Everyone was happy, as if we had just won the war on terror. There was definitely a sense of camaraderie as one might expect whenever a room full of people are in accord about rooting for a particular side. I can understand folks getting swept away by that kind of energy, but if one steps back to take a clear look at the phenomenon, it becomes surreal very quickly. Why does anyone care what happens on that field?
One of my friends was taken aback by my professed reason for rooting for the Steelers after a virtual lifetime of disinterest. I told him that I was making an exception because the club's owner Dan Rooney had officially endorsed Barack Obama in the presidential election. He replied that
this was the single worst justification he had ever heard for caring about the team. I didn't press him to explain his opinion, but in retrospect I wish I had followed that up. After all, American sports are all about business. Why shouldn't I take whatever political positions they advocate into account? I'm pretty sure that if I were boycotting a company based upon practices I disagreed with, my friend would understand. So anyway... Go Steelers.