Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Joy

I've been thinking about football lately. I have a new friend who grew up in Boston and who has kids about the same age as mine. We've all been playing hockey at our outdoor rink and having a great time. Anyhow, he's a football fan and I found myself trying to explain succinctly why I no longer follow the sport closely.

I was a huge fan of both the NFL and college football for many years, and have some great memories of the sport. I was in the stands when Marshall Faulk played his first college game, a redshirt coming off the bench in the second quarter to replace an injured running back. He came out of nowhere and spent the whole rest of the day breaking out for one long run after another, setting the NCAA single-game rushing record. And there's that excitement and anticipation when the quarterback steps back and unleashes a bomb. Fifty thousand people standing and holding their breath as the ball arcs toward the speeding receiver down the sideline.

When trying to explain why I gave up football I've told people I was fed up with the inner-city in-your-face culture where winning is everything and sportsmanship is uncool. But that's not the main reason. When I think about football, I think of long dark Sundays, headaches, and malaise. Watching the game on TV has always left me feeling drained and even depressed--even when my team won. And if they didn't I was lost. Each game is an epic. Yet it all too often comes down to one play in the end: a missed field goal, or a winning touchdown called back on a penalty. The game has so much to offer. It's an epic battle, and it's often very exciting. But for me there's no joy in it. There's just no joy.

I was thinking about this as I was watching the Bruins play the Predators last night, sitting there with this huge grin on my face. I found myself laughing out loud. There was Timmy making huge saves, even an old-fashioned two-pad stack! And Metropolit deking like an all-star, scoring not once, but twice. That unbelievable pass Savvy made--a spinorama behind the back, right on the tape. And that Predator bowling over Timmy and Timmy squirming underneath trying to fight him through his pads. It was great fun.

It was joyous.

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