Win one for the Man(ning)!

Peyton Manning signed photographYeehaw, Peyton won the Superbowl!
 
Lots of articles this week. Is football America’s religion? Unless you go to New Life Church, hell yeah! We worship. We sing. We dance. We praise. We repent. We are slain in the aisles. We are redeemed. We are brothers and sisters. We sit at the right hand of God. NO DOUBT.

I have to admit to being a rabid sports fan. I don’t know why. I can’t explain. But last night, when it became apparent that Peyton was gonna bring it home, I cried and cried. My kids gathered silently around me in an adorable show of compassion, not completely understanding but knowing that my tears were not tears of sadness.

I guess it’s about connection. I think it’s about dreams. Drama. Victory. Superiority. I honestly don’t know.

My ex-hub is a maniacal Northwestern University fan. He attended both undergrad and Med School there. Unfortunately, NW is an egghead school. No one, except Fisher DeBerry, wants to talk about what that means. It means NOT GOOD FOOTBALL. I’ll go no further.

In 1999, Northwestern won the Big Ten championship. I cannot tell you what an astounding feat this was with the likes of Michigan and Ohio State as competitors. It’s like Vandy winning the SEC. Dave and I, of course, went to Pasadena to see the Rose Bowl Parade (amazing) and the game against the USC (the University of Spoiled Children….better, the University of Low Class Jerks where OJ Simpson was an idol). Never a ruder crowd have we seen. No appreciation for the history. No appreciation for the record books. Just masses running around drinking beer being assholes.

The next year Northwestern barely missed another Big Ten Championship. They, instead, went to the Citrus Bowl. Again, Dave and I went. NW played the University of Tennessee, clad in unbelievably garish orange, speaking with heavy Southern drawls. Because the game was in Orlando, not too far from Tennessee, the crowd was comprised mainly of Vols fans. A pep rally was held on the eve of the big game, thousands of people clad in orange celebrating, partying, laughing. Peyton Manning, at the tender age of 22, stood at the podium and admonished the Vols fans to acknowledge NW’s accomplishments and to invite us to participate. It was a much different experience than we’d had at the Rose Bowl. Real people. Kind people. A classy Peyton Manning understanding the greater significance of football and history.

I am the same age as John Elway. So is Dave. We spent much of our married life loving the Broncos, living and dying by John’s performances and his screw ups. I remember Craig Morton. A great man but unable to move well. Enter John Elway. Bliss and pain. Our lives forever different.

John’s contemporaries are some of the best in NFL history. Dan, Joe, Troy, Boomer, Steve, Bernie, many more. John was stellar. He was amazing. He was bright and classy and visionary. Somewhat erratic in the beginning. Then just magic. Especially in the fourth quarter.

The Superbowl victory eluded John for years. Though he was one of the most accomplished QBs in history, he was diminished by the fact that he never won a Superbowl. Sure, he didn’t have much to work with but, in history, no one cares about that. When the Broncos won in Miami in ’99, I was there. I was overwrought. I was crying and laughing. I think the Rolling Stones performed at half time….I hardly remember. I just wanted John to have his scepter. And he did.

Peyton has had a similar experience. A first round draft pick, like Elway. An incredible record, like Elway. Victories. Accolades. Press. Passion. Love. But no Superbowl ring.

Dan Marino, possibly the greatest QB in NFL history, never brought home the big one. That will be his legacy. He will always be known as the great QB that never brought home the prize. I’m so glad that Peyton won’t have that monkey on his back.

Peyton! Peyton! Peyton!

44 thoughts on “Win one for the Man(ning)!

  1. AvatarLuann

    Ok Marie, you had me sold until the end. Now you’re starting to sound like someone else who doesn’t know shit, but likes to make asinine assumptions. How horrible to think HE could have rubbed off on you like that. By the way did you even watch the game? Rumour has it, you didn’t.

  2. AvatarThe 13th

    Marie, I’m not avid to sports, but like Luann I’m a fan of your writes.
    I can’t help but point to Oh Marie as the writing is courageous, tender, and observant. I wouldn’t be trying bloggo if not for you and the dance hall sponsor.

    DO explore newspeak, oldspeak, any and all styles so you/any you don’t box your diverse creative voice into canonical incantation.

    Stephen King enters to give less and more context. “The adverb is not your friend.” Folks, if you want to see truly hot debate try a search on “adverb usage”!! Language is a virus. Stay infectious!

  3. AvatarThe 13th

    (Gads. How long until I learn to Spellcheck.)

    Per Newspeak. My faux pas. It’s another Springs blog. I don’t live in the Springs anymore. When I moved down the road I teased friends to “Be Afraid. Springs is coming to you!” Tourism and postcards. The Hayman fire was very diverting.

    Hello John S. Hello Newspeak. Matchstick, anyone?

  4. Avatardarksandal

    Who’s talking about nespeak and who’s talking about Newspeak? I’m very confused. Are there legit rumors that Manning’s gay? I know that legit rumor is an oxymoron, but …?

  5. Avatardarksandal

    Who’s talking about nespeak and who’s talking about Newspeak? I’m very confused. Are there legit rumors that Manning’s gay? I know that legit rumor is an oxymoron, but … hey, I trade in them.

  6. AvatarMarie Walden Post author

    Touche, Luann. I took out the comment about Peyton being gay. It was something Dave said, in his biting Dav-ish way, right before the game. I don’t believe it to be true for one second. But, you know, gay IS the new black so it would be rather fashionable if he was.

    Tony Dungy! First black Christian to win the Super Bowl with Peyton Manning, first gay Christian by his side!

  7. AvatarMarie Walden Post author

    And I did watch the Super Bowl, sitting on my couch, pretty much alone, until I started to cry and then, of course, the kids came out of the woodwork to love me up. Poor poor Marie. Where have all my sports nuts gone?

  8. AvatarDiann

    Pro football has always been a problem for me. I want to enjoy the fun and competition, but I’m always cringing when someone gets their gladiator nose shoved into the ground. Someone sent me this article awhile ago and it describes my feelings about it fairly accurately.

    How the violence in pro football
    is poisoning our culture. by John Graham of the Giraffe Heroes Project.

    “Go Seahawks!” screamed 65,000 people, urged on by 64 sign-waving “Sea-Gals” on the field and a leather-throated guy on the PA system. The Seattle Seahawks were in the football playoffs, but facing a team that had already beaten them twice this season. “Go Seahawks!” Not loud enough, yelled the PA guy. Not nearly loud enough. GO SEAHAWKS! 65,000 people now on their feet waving towels provided by the management. Men with huge wigs and faces painted Seahawk blue and green ran down the aisles, beating their chests like the warriors in Braveheart. Fireworks exploded in our ears, while a two-story-high monitor at the end of the field showed race cars exploding in fireballs. Three Army helicopters clattered low over the stadium, just missing skimming the top of just missing sounds like they intended to hit it an American flag the size of a living room.

    The message was unmistakable: “Football is war,” and the promoters of the game were doing everything they could to conflate the two. As the decibels in that stadium rose to the level of pain, the whole place shook with battle cries. And the game hadn’t even started.

    I kept to my seat. I like to watch and play sports, including contact sports. I cheer for my teams. But this afternoon I felt like I was on the island in The not because I was shy Why suggest that—it didn’t occur to me that you might be but because I was scared. Lord of the Flies. Or in the amphitheater in Nuremberg. In , by the realization that in this very Blue city that had just voted for John Kerry three-to-one, had that PA guy suddenly screamed, “Kill Muslims!” or “Bash gays” many of those roused, roaring people would have shifted to those cries without thinking.

    You think I’m kidding? You should have been there. Or, I suspect, at the Big Game in most any other pro football stadium in the country.

    Of course, other sports are violent too. But only football, and especially pro football, cloaks itself so deliberately and so thoroughly in war imagery. Even the language used to describe the game equates a gridiron with a battlefield. A quarterback in the shotgun formation evades a blitz of onrushing linemen and throws a bomb, his injured ribs protected by a flak jacket.

    I don’t blame the athletes for football-as-war. They’re just highly paid employees, not policy-makers. I miss the hired-gun line. I blame the promoters and the media, both eager for high ratings and profits. Even the best competitions can occasionally seem dull, especially if you’ve never bothered to learn the fine points of a game. But war imagery—as produced for us by promoters and sports media—is never dull, so conflating football with war sells tickets.

    Don’t get me wrong—I not only like contact sports, I have a history of liking war. By the time I was forty I’d put myself in harm’s way so often I’d almost died a violent death fourteen times. A John Wayne wanna-be, my assignments in the US Foreign Service had put me in the middle of wars and revolutions, including 18 months in one of the most dangerous areas of Vietnam. I loved it, loved the adventures and especially the ultimate adventure of war. But at the height of the battle for Hué in 1972, I finally “got” the total irresponsibility of a life driven by an unholy cocktail of adrenaline and testosterone.

    So maybe I’m like a recovering alcoholic, who knows too well the perils of drink. From the perspective of a sometimes violent younger life, I see big dangers in pro football’s identification with war.

    Conflating football with war distorts the reality and hides the gruesome seriousness of real war, especially for the young. I know from my own experience how attractive war can be to young men, and how seductive those attractions are—right up to that first time you see how poorly human flesh stands up to jagged pieces of flying steel. Conflating football with war depends on and extends the myth that war is a game. Clever marketers are now using football-as-war to sell absurdly violent video games that further hide the reality of real war. The most heavily promoted product on a televised football game I saw recently was a video game called “Mercenaries – Playground of Destruction.” It was limitless mayhem and the “mercs” all seemed to be having a very good time. Note the word “playground” in the title. War is a game. A game is war. Does anybody really expect a kid playing a video game or watching pro football to understand the difference? How do they know that in Falluja you can’t just press the Reset button and start over?

    Football-as-war undermines the positive ethos behind football and, by association, all competitive sports. I believe that competitive sports, including contact sports like football, can build camaraderie and teamwork, teach people to respect and not demonize opponents, show them how to persevere through pain, fatigue, and failure, and otherwise train them to be at their best. But most if not all that positive training is lost if sports, led by pro football, elevate violence over skill and sportsmanship, teach kids that adversaries on the field are enemies to be obliterated, and drum into their heads that winning is everything. What the football pros do works its way down to Pee Wee leagues, to little kids hardly bigger than their shoulder pads—and to parents screaming on the sidelines.

    Football-as-war is dangerously manipulative. It’s one thing to cheer your team on to victory. It’s a completely different thing for the promoters of a contest to deliberately suffuse a stadium in war imagery and then to manipulate the mindless raw emotion they’ve conjured up. Of course the promoters will say that they’re manipulating emotions for a completely innocent purpose—and that it’s all part of the fun of going to a game. Yet by creating a state of mass mindlessness suffused in war imagery, football-as-war gives people the perfect forum for letting rip the anger and pain of unresolved conflicts and frustrations at home and work—the stuff that most of us keep inside because we find it so difficult to resolve.In a stadium full of screaming Bravehearts, the positive excitement and enthusiasm of a sports contest can be turned to the dark side. In the worst cases, football-as-war lets spectators experience dominance and the inflicting of pain, without the danger of being hurt themselves.

    What the promoters don’t understand (or care about) is that the spectacle they create moves people not to release their inner poisons but to thicken them. If 65,000 people can be manipulated into screaming insults at the opposing team, how hard would it be to get them to scream a racial epithet, even in polite, friendly, tolerant Seattle? A current commercial by an insurance company cautions fans to avoid road rage when driving home after the game. That company understands what’s going on.

    And then there’s political manipulation. If people get used to having their emotions manipulated at football games, how well will they resist a political or religious demagogue urging them to act on those emotions? Our country is now at war, raising policy questions of the utmost importance, deserving reflection from every citizen. In football-as-war, singing the national anthem is the only quiet part of the pre-game show. The rest of the din only detracts from whatever reflective moment the anthem may produce, generating at best a jingoistic patriotism with as much depth as a video game. By conflating a game with war, pro football generates mindless support for war, war without consequences or complexity.

    What can we do?

    Speak up. When Janet Jackson bared her breast during last year’s Superbowl, millions of people were upset enough to lodge protests. When entire stadiums and vast television audiences are programmed to glorify and mimic war, there is no outcry. This is nuts. Let both football owners and sports media know that you notice and that you care. Call them. Email them.

    Talk about it with your friends. Especially for guys, stick your neck out and bring up the subject of football-as-war in the locker room at your gym, in the car pool or during a lunch break. Of course some eyeballs will roll—this is difficult stuff. Ask your friends why they think so many people are attracted by war imagery? Why is it so titillating? What effect does that have on our culture and our national policies? Why should we care?

    Talk about it with your kids. Broaden a discussion of football-as-war to include the violence of some video games. Do your kids know what’s real and what’s not? Do they know what’s an appropriate way to express anger and frustration and what’s not?

    Talk about it with yourself. I think many people who get swept up in the hysteria of football-as-war have made themselves vulnerable to that manipulation by failing to deal with inner demons. Others are vulnerable because of inner emptiness; they haven’t found enough meaning in work or relationships so they look for it in three hours of football-as-war. For people who’ve found and lead full lives, a football game is not war and it’s not a search for meaning. It’s a football game. What does the game mean to you?

    All materials ©1991-2005 Giraffe Heroes Project

  9. AvatarMarie Walden Post author

    Oh, Diann. You cut me to the quick. I love football because of my inner emptiness? The lack of meaning in my life? I have to write a post about this.

    I thank you for putting up the article. I think a lot of people who aren’t into sports feel exactly like you, and the author, do. And I’m not going to be able to fully explain the lure of big-time football, be it college or professional, but I’m going to try.

  10. AvatarDiann

    Aw, I didn’t mean to cut you to the quick, Marie. I have many of the same feelings you do and it is a representation of that ol’ tribal thing. I think the game has changed through the years along with most pro sports. I started becoming disillusioned with it’s brutalness years ago and I also, saw the effects of continued support of competitive sports programs in high schools and colleges at the further undermining of arts and music programs. It’s an American, apple pie thing to root, root, root for the home team. But at what sacrifice? The dollars spent on advertising during that game could have supported 1000’s of needy people and injured soldiers. It’s a matter of perspective and I think, we as Amercians, are fast losing touch with what really matters. Just by chance, I watched the movie, “They Shoot Horses Don’t They?” last night and interestingly enough it’s message came through loud and clear. People want to think of themselves as better or better off than someone else as they watched those dancers fall one by one. It naturally makes them feel better. I think the same could apply to watching those tribal-like sports.

  11. AvatarTony Logan

    That was a great commentary you posted here, Diane. It sums up my sentiments exactly.

    I like football and have even encouraged my little girl to take it up some and plan to buy her a football to toss around. I encourage her to play the game with other girls, and even with boys, too, as long as it is tag football. At that level the game is FUN and not the war game that adults make it into. It is fun to play and good exercise, too. I love football!

    When it is turned into a war game, then it becomes a crippling experience to those kids that get sucked up into the kill mindset. So many young kids get hurt physically and emotionally, too, when the ‘pros’ take over. You run into them in the hospitals using having some sort of orthopedic or back surgery. At that ‘war’ level, it represents all that sucks about America today. A business more than a game. A business run by hateful numbskulls.

  12. AvatarMarie Walden Post author

    I don’t disagree with either of you. I started out my post with “Yes, we’ve got war and poverty and a healthcare crisis, etc., but Peyton won the SB.” Then I decided not to write that. Of course, the dollars and passion devoted to sports at all levels are ludicrous. But this can be said about so many things. Our national priorities are whack. How do we change that? I don’t know. But can we just enjoy sport for sport’s sake?

  13. AvatarDiann

    Yes, your first post would have been an honest appraisal, Marie, of our tendencies to want to “escape” the realities of our world. If only we all used better escapist therapies like a nice long walk or turning off the television set.

  14. AvatarMarie Walden Post author

    I try, believe me Diann, I try. I have spent my life being a fitness enthusiast. Now, for some reason, I have a very hard time finding a place in my world for good ol’ sweat, blood and tears. This is a real struggle for me. I am caught up in a life that isn’t real. My real life, which includes flesh and blood children and a job and lots of social connections, is taking a back seat to my self-indulgent online world. Even my poor sainted mother has had to receive instruction in the realm of online communication because I am so inaccessible to her otherwise.

    It’s a problem. At least for an introvert like me. I read a fantastic book once called Party of One which discussed the amazing beauty of the internet for fringe players. I’ve seen it in my kids. We hold back mightily in the presence of “others” in our real lives but can completely indulge our authentic selves online. I say things in the internet world that I would NEVER say, or even really think, as a flesh and blood person. My family has been astounded since I starting blogging. We are super close, or so we all thought, but I am not a person that they really know. Or even one that I really know.

    It makes General Hospital seem quite irrelevant. I am my own drama.

  15. AvatarTony Logan

    A dog helps one stay grounded, Marie. Plus they are very sporting. I find that half my communication with my family nowadays also involves the dog. The last sporting event i went to was ‘retrieve the stick’ where my daughter was soundly defeated by the dog.

  16. AvatarLuann

    Wow, you guys are really out there in imagination. War and Sports? Yes, they have so much in common. What drugs are you inhaling? Actually, the pageantry of Sport is much different then the annihilation of War.

  17. AvatarLuann

    Oh, and Marie, you should pick up the phone occasionally, your loved ones are calling you. One should not have to watch the Super Bowl, with all it’s pre-game and half-time pageantry, alone, EVER!

  18. AvatarJonah

    When I was getting out of the Air Force, the psych doctor wrote a 3 page report on why I was not going to be a Good Airman. One reason was that even though I was only 18, had 2 jobs before going in the military, the one that lasted more than a year was paid on a day labor basis. So I was “only employed at ‘temporary’ jobs”.

    Another was that I listed as my favorite books Science Fiction. They glommed onto the Fiction part and said I wasn’t into reality.

    (all of this from a scored form, mind you, check the boxes and we put you into them.)

    The biggest reason was that I wasn’t a football player. Or not in an organized league.

    Which was a real mindbender for me.

    Read Brave New World, Revisited by Aldous Huxley 1959 to get a better idea.

  19. Avatartony logan

    I’m surprised that you don’t see the connection between football and war, Luann. Don’t need to be on drugs at all to see the same mindsets of US vs THEM in both sports fever and militarism.

    Plus the same medical casualties that accrue to innocent and naive youth guided by cynical, sorry and much older ‘officers’ in both football and war. I prefer chess myself. Less busted knees, shoulders, and backs. Less concussions. Less like war and gladiator sport than American tackle football is.

  20. AvatarLuann

    The “sports fever” you’re speaking of Tony, correct me if I am wrong, has to do with the spectator’s perspective. Now that may be similar to militarism, however, not at all how an athlete experiences it.

  21. AvatarLuann

    Furthermore, can any of you people be open minded and think of anything, ANYTHING, other than EVERYTHING always resulting back to the war chant? Your CONSTANT beating of the drum gives me a headache. You are so limited. Did you know that one of the greatest international peace events is the OLYMPIC GAMES, where hundreds of thousands of people from every country, every race, every social status, in the WORLD, come together in celebration and appreciation to honor true competition and sportsmanship in a friendly festival of sports entertainment; just for the love of the ATHLETE. Really, you guys should experience THAT. Then maybe there wouldn’t be such ass talk.

  22. AvatarLuann

    Imagine the joy, for the young and the old, of trading pins, jerseys, berets, national keepsakes; sharing cheers, brews, handshakes, smiles, customs, wins and losses. The next games are in Beijing, and if that doesn’t work, there’s Vancouver, two years hence. It could lift your dark cloud of cynicism. See you there! GO USA!

  23. AvatarDiann

    Imagine the disappointment in losing, the drugging to achieve faster and higher goals, the pressure on athletes to win to the exclusion of all else. I think the problem is in the root source of competition in general. It is this obsession with competition to the exclusion of cooperation that could be pointed to as the beginning of one’s failure to adequately nurture their growing sense of compassion and understanding. As an example, this lack of compassion and understanding is what, I think, eventually leads to invasions of foreign countries that posed absolutely no credible threat to another country’s security and way of life. And though competition is certainly a good idea in business in the sense that it should—though it usually doesn’t—force innovation and invention, the fact remains that almost every industry in America is shrinking due to mergers and acquisitions. With shrinking industry comes shrinking wages and, ultimately, a shrinking workforce. The competition that is being presented as reality on television shows and in sports is clearly not reflected in real life. While businesses may engage in cutthroat competition with each other, they all expect their employees to work together as a single entity. Though, of course, they also promote the idea of competition through such things as promotion and Employee of the Month competitions. The fact that the only people who get any real benefit from such a thing are the managers and execs and not the actual Employee of the Month goes virtually unnoticed by those competing for the dubious honor. I can relate to this so well. In a highly competitive industry for a very long time, I was very successful and competent. But they wanted more, more, more. They wanted me to promise them 110% every year, every month. I was comfortable, had a life and freedom to enjoy my life. What that competitive industry wanted from me was ALL of my life. It’s that kind of “football game” in life, the drive to win, that is so destructive to families and individuals, not to mention our relations with other countries. It’s not a “dark cloud of cynicism”, Luann. It’s reality and I, for one, feel qualified to have a somewhat pragmatic view about it having participated in that business environment. To each their own. I think it probably has a lot to do with one’s own experiences.

  24. AvatarMarie Walden Post author

    Uh, may I just interject here that Luann was a scholarship athlete at Florida State. Still the only woman in their history to play three varsity sports. Also a two-time Olympian. Just a little background info!

  25. AvatarLane

    I enjoy playing sports when I have the time and like watching them occasionally too, but there needs to be some common sense applied to the problem of money. That is, the money spent on promoting sports versus providing people with basic needs like food, shelter and health care.

    I grew up in a family that lives season to sport’s season. They are either deep into one sport or transitioning between two seasons that, more and more seem to overlap one another without any break in between. I moved away years ago, partly because I just didn’t have the enthusiasm for sports the way they did. My love of music seemed to be an afront to the regimented consumption (either participating or spectating) of sports.

    These days, I find it nearly impossible to talk to my nephews because they are only home for a couple hours each day and all of this time seems taking up by homework, video games, eating or sleeping. At Chiristmas, I was asked to buy NFL shirts that they couldn’t find in their small town – since I live in the “big city” -whoopee! I have not done it yet and really don’t have any intention on supporting an industry I see as destructive to our nation.

    As for the Olympics, I haven’t watched more than a couple of hours since I was a child. Not because I don’t enjoy watching great feats of athleticism, but because I would rather DO something myself – like go for a walk or ride my bicycle! Yes I am in great shape for my age (late 30’s) in spite of arthritic-like pains. I added the -like because my doctor can’t seem to come up with a diagnosis, but simply gives me medication (that hardly even makes a noticable difference).

    Well, have I rambled on enough? My initial purpose was to tel you that people don’t need sports to get together and share brews, handshakes, smiles, and customs – why not have a BATTLE of the bands! At least the only damage done might be to one’s hearing…unless of course there is a mosh pit. 😉

  26. AvatarDiann

    That’s great, and I can appreciate that wonderful experience and hope it was as fantastic as it well should be. We’ve probably all enjoyed the feelings of winning in some kind of competition at one time or another. And competition in it’s truest form is not necessarily a bad thing. That’s not what I’m saying at all. It’s competition taken to it’s extreme forms that is the root of the problem, I think. But when one calls another “limited”, it usually is a wise thing to look at that black kettle.

  27. AvatarTony Logan

    Luann, I think you have mistaken our criticisms of the what the over commercialization of athletics leads to as being anti-athletics itself. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

    And what Diane said is absolutely true about the kill or die mentality of militarism and much of US athletic endeavor today leading to a kill (produce profit for us) or die attitude by businesses in regard to us, their workers.

    You see us as dragging politics into everything even though you don’t want it there, but we are not the ones who do this first, it is done for us in pro sports by management. Go to a game and see corporate logos everywhere, forced prayers and forced mass national allegiances all forced upon us the spectators to participate in. So who really brings politics into athletics, Luann? It is not really us with our comments on a blog doing so.

    You as an athlete might not speak for all those that participate. Very few athletes are calling the current environment a fun environment for themselves. And though you hate this analogy, this is just like talking to the troops about being in the military. Some are real aggressive and will be quite nasty to anyone who speaks bad about Uncle Sam, but they do not speak for those with less than pleasant experiences in the military field of killing. Similarly many have very bad experiences in athletics.

    I have a very good friend in Texas, an older man who was raised in a football loving Right Wing family. He was being pushed to be like his older brothers, local high school stars. What did it lead to for him? It led to him being in the hospital for months and permanently being messed up due to a stupid scrimmage practice where he was brutalized by a much heavier player while being pushed to ‘take it’. Get the picture?

  28. AvatarLuann

    Well you guys are wrong in your analogies. The “disappointment in losing” hmm, we finished 7th and 6th place in a field of 8. I’d say we were big losers by your standards, but we never lost heart or spirit. You don’t see us “invading foreign countries” to threaten their security all in the name of “kill or die.” I guess we had compassion and understanding even though we didn’t win at the exclusion of all else. Now if we take the Iraqi athletes, that’s a different story; yes they were tortured and murdered for not winning. But now, maybe things will be more hopeful for them to be able to enjoy “partipating” in international competition. Also, did you know that through sport and national team selections in some oppressed countries, like the former USSR, this was their ticket to freedom and a life of opportunity, not only for the athletes, but for their families as well. This was their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

  29. Avatartony logan

    Yes, and the American Communist Party had a sports page for decades in its paper, The Daily World, too. Sports and watching sports are certainly OK and can be enjoyable. We can agree on that.

    It is too bad that much of the sports atmosphere has degenerated horribly within the US, though certainly soccer hooliganism in countries like Britain and Italy shows that that mindset is not unique to the US. BTW, what do you think of boxing, Luann?

  30. AvatarLuann

    No Tony, I didn’t mistake your criticisms of what over commercialization of athletics leads to. I believe I addressed that in my initial comment about the “pageantry” of sport. That encumbers the involvement of businesses and commercialism. After all, we would have no Olympic athletes to rave about or Professional athletes to wager on, without the over-the-top financial support expressed through corporate logos. You should pay attention to other’s comments instead of writing too quickly what you need to say.

  31. AvatarTony Logan

    Yes, I was being way too generous and kind regarding what you were saying, Luann.

    Your real criticism is actually against our antiwar views and attitudes, and not just how some of us might view American sports. Hence, the baloney you spouted about how Iraqis were supposedly now free to ‘enjoy participating in international competition’ whereas they, in your own words, were previously being tortured and murdered! All this change, I guess, due to supposedly being liberated by the US invasion and occupation of their country? Are you nuts?

    That’s your opinion in your own words which I have now read your posts several times over. Well what you wrote is a total Bullshit read on current events. And that’s why you are so angered at what we say, and call us ‘limited’. You support the US war machine, Luann, even as it destroys Iraq, Afghanistan, and YES, our country, too.

    Your real objection is to people attacking the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, Luann. Well guess what? People will continue to do just that, and they will attack the mess that the US business community has made of public sports, too.

    If you would think about it a little more, I think that you might see that neither is sports being played in a very pleasing manner inside our own country, and that life is not improved in Iraq, like you say it has, by having foreign occupiers (our troops) with guns and bombs everywhere killing people ad lib.

  32. AvatarJonah

    Olympics has a history in war as well, you might notice that the Marathon was named for a message runner who ran all the way from the battlefield to deliver the message, then promptly died at the feet of the king, the Javelin, Discus and Shot-put were state of the art military weapons when the Olympics started, archery and fencing, wrestling…

    But the real key to it is Mass Participation.

    The cheering crowds at a Rock Concert can be analogous to the cheering throngs at a sporting event or the cheering chanting throng at a Revival or a political Rally like Hitler’s Munich rally.

    The analogies aren’t anything new, Aldous Huxley wrote about them in 1925 in Brave New World, then again in 1959, before Pro Football was taking its toddler steps.

    Go to a religious revival, or remember the last time you were at one, and the preacher says Can I get an Amen? and the crowd screams out in Unison AMEN! and the preacher says I Can’t Hear YOU! and the crowd repeats the AMEN in closer unison and louder…

    then go to a rock concert, a football game, a political rally, Basic Training, see if you aren’t urged to make with the salutes and chants…

    Huxley called it Mass Indoctrination.

  33. AvatarLuann

    Wow, Tony you finally figured that out. Congrats! By the way I wasn’t angered, it was all tongue and cheek, but happy to hang with the BIG DOGS none the less. Now I will retreat to the porch where I belong. Oh , one more curtain call: Rome wasn’t built overnight, neither will the new sports life for the Iraqi children. Only God could create the heavens and earth in just seven days. TaTa

  34. AvatarMarie Walden Post author

    Of course the money spent on big-time athletics, and even on athletics at a local level (have you ever had a kid play club volleyball?), is absurd. So are the dollars spent to build huge art galleries and museums. The money that goes into making a Hollywood blockbuster. Or staging a national tour of a band or a theater production.

    It’s about entertainment. We love our entertainment. It gives meaning to life (Diann, maybe you were right about me). It can elevate us to a level of emotion or passion that grocery shopping.

    Does that mean I don’t care about the war, or the poor, or the uninsured, or Iraqi children? No it doesn’t. And, by and large, the big-time sports organizations and the athletes themselves give very significant dollars to helping organizations. They frequently get involved with the communities that they grew up in to fight poverty or hopelessness. Remember when speedskater, Joey Cheek, gave his gold medal earnings to an organization called Right to Play which gives children in third world countries access to sport and all the lessons and skills and vision and confidence that can be gained on the playing field? When he mentioned it from the podium, donations poured into the organization from all over the world. People understand the importance and beauty of sport in human experience. Just as most people would recognize the beauty of art and music and all else sublime.

  35. AvatarDiann

    Marie, my finger points at noone. To everyone. I think I made it clear that most of us enjoy spectator extravaganzas and share in the delight of feeling a part, the camaraderie, the excitement of the event, the escape from our own individual realities. It’s great, as long as we don’t lose sight and touch with what is truly important.
    Jonah and Tony, you’re right on! Amen! 😉

  36. AvatarMarie Walden Post author

    Diann, I wasn’t taking offense at all. I was realizing that, yeah, I think sport does provide some meaning to existence for me.

    And, Bob, I wanted to say right on to you. I fight the battle against “sport as all-important” in my kids’ lives a lot. It is very much a part of our current culture, with kids starting to play at age 3 or 4. By the time kids are in middle school they are locked out of athletics if they haven’t been on the fast track with everyone else. Soccer, tennis, golf, basketball, flag football, baseball, volleyball, cross country, dance. I’m sure I missed a few but this is what last year looked like for us. I’m sure 2007 will be worse.

  37. AvatarDiann

    I personally find it relaxing to hit a the farm team Sky Sox game on a warm summer night when the full moon is coming up over third base, illuminating our beautiful Colorado skies. The day’s newspaper and a hot dog in hand, waiting for the illusive grand slam in the bottom of the 9th inning to win the game with fireworks booming overhead and everyone on their feet cheering for the team and apple pie…..now that’s what I call fun. Those guys aren’t making the big bucks, but they are serious players. The advertising and support is mostly local, although I once got to see the Oscar Mayer Weiner mobile. I’ve yet to see anyone, fan or player, exhibit anything but good ol’-fashioned family fun. That’s my kinda sports and was my first experience at a semi-professional baseball game. What luck!

  38. AvatarJonah

    of course, the participation in most sports, for most people, which I have no mathematical formula to put on it, is as spectators rather than as contestants.

    Like the 72 Olympics, a lot of people remember the attacks on Israeli athletes, but I was fixing a computer 3 years ago, there mention being made of the Russian team beating the American team in basketball. There was a controversial time call at the very end of the game that gave the Russian team the advantage. The American team refused to accept the Silver medals because they contested the call.

    Of course, nationalism trumps sportsmanship… But seriously, with a 1 minute time adjustment, how thoroughly were the Americans beating the Russians, if they could come back in less than a minute and win? A close game like that.

    And of course the Made For TV movie about the Miracle at the 84 olympics when the US hockey team beat the Russians, and it Proved The AMERICAN WAY is BEST!

    Why not sports for sports sake? For the exercise, the competition between athletes instead of Cities or States?

    It works out to be a sad reflection of all the other hype subjected to every other aspect of our society.

    And of course, my El Paso home baseball team, the Sun Dogers/cum/Sun Devils/cum/Diablos used to beat every other team in Texas like a tightly stretched drum on a routine basis, but hey, I wasn’t the one out there hitting the balls.

  39. AvatarThe 13th

    Shaw’s “Man and Superman”… Physical versus mental. A very MOOT debate. Likewise intelligence is not always a political process, but whatever form it takes it really should not brag itself as answer to anything until it is.

    Interesting to note in these strings of sports and war how convection met with assimilation and a hush around concepts of violence, game, and politics. What was the Marine shout in “Full Metal Jacket”? Rifle and gun? Fighting and fun.

    Keep hope alive. Build better fields to play in.

    Sometimes when I’m Coppola-ting I dream that just once I’d like to set the jungle on fire for the opening of the film, then decide that’s just a stage to pass. What a dark river. I miss the African Queen but Superman’s gabled Clark never gives a damn. Scarlet to Boombox, this one’s from the heart… (i do).

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