I Respectfully Decline Your Invitation

I'll probably insult some of you, but I don't get into the gladiatorial games and the once-a-year burp-off known as Superbowl. I'm not into sports anyway, football being the one that tops the list. I don't understand the mountains of money the players make, I don't get the naked, flabby beer bellies on the guys who paint themselves in tribal colors, roaring and grunting into the television cameras, and I don't get the way our country has fixated on all that.

I remember when baseball was the national sport. Baseball was nicer. But then, old arm-chair shrink that I am, always analyzing everything, I think that our love of baseball was at a time when it was a kinder, nicer society overall. America was in its prepubescence and we were happier, less insecure. We liked being outside in the spring, eating peanuts and Cracker Jack. Hell, we didn't care if we never got ba—. Sorry. Then, after the Cold War, we got a little older. Our balls dropped, so to speak, and we had forces within us that wanted to kick some ass. No one was gonna mess with us! Reflecting this loss of optimism and trust, even football changed. The play became more violent and the pads beneath the uniforms grew to ridiculous proportions. Look at the difference between the uniforms of the 30s compared to those of today. But this was war and the gladiators needed more armor. And no one's truly happy until someone (on the other team, of course) gets carried off on a stretcher, or until half-time when the nearly naked dancing girls come out to perform.

Worse, if you're not a football fan, you're really not an American. There's something wrong with you. But I'll bet that back in ancient Rome there were a few people who stayed home because they didn't understand the need to take part in the spectacle of the blood sport.

I've watched Superbowl only two times. The first was when a roommate and I had a party in our house for the guys in our circle. That was fun... we spent all day cooking, and picking up beer bottles. The second was at a company for which I worked. They had a super huge TV screen that covered an entire wall, and there was an open bar. The guys, normally nice and well-behaved during the work week, became loud-mouthed, rude and insulting sons of bitches, and the women in the office still did all the cooking and picking up beer bottles. At both of these "parties" the common battle cry was, "Would you get me another beer?"

Nope, don't like football, won't be tuning in.