August 8, 2020

The Sirens and the Titans

It’s February. That means just one thing. It’s Stupor Bowl time.

It wasn’t always this way. When I was a kid, the Stupor Bowl was in January. But that was before football—the American kind where they wear lots of pads, a helmet with a face mask and spend an inordinate amount of time touching one another—became a ‘big deal.” It was a time before they had sixteen teams to sort through before we knew who was playing. I don’t know if any of you were around in 1967, but I remember the first Stupor Bowl. The two teams got there in a single game play off. And, yes, it was January.

The Packers won. The Chief’s lost. It wasn’t a sellout.

I also remember that by just a few minutes into the second half, it was boring. Regardless of how you feel about the first Stupor Bowl, or the last one, one thing has not changed. It remains one of the most mundane sporting events on the planet.

In fact, boring has become a staple of the Stupor Bowl as much as store-bought guacamole, frozen hot wings and overstuffed cheerleaders.

This  year we will play Stupor Bowl XXVLLRT. To my knowledge there have been less than IV Stupor Bowls worth watching. One was remarkable because some guy grabbed some chick’s breast after an alleged wardrobe malfunction. One was remarkable because a streaker ran across the field (was it just one?). One was remarkable because Howard Cosell prowled the sidelines mumbling inaudibly while “Dandy” Don Meredith threw up on national television.

And then there was the one in which the Arizona Cardinals played. I don’t think I need to explain the uniqueness of that event. But the rest of them, the other XCVTTRLV, sucked.

The Stupor bowl was to have been the annual battle of the titans. But instead it’s eight or ten hours of hype punctuated by a stream of commercial advertisements, which, in most instances, have left a more lasting impression than the contest itself. Who won in 1995? I don’t know, but I do remember that was the year the Bud-Wise-Urr frogs debuted.

See what I mean? The Titans long ago took a back seat to Betty White peddling Snicker bars or “Mean” Joe Green shilling soft drinks. The titans are now told to sit on the bench, which they do willingly, while corporate sponsors vie with one another over who had the funniest, most impressionable, most off-the-wall advertisement. Which brings to my point—assuming there is one. If you are reading this before the annual contest of corporate sponsors, then you are probably expecting me to make a prediction as to who won. Okay, I’m good with that. If that’s the case, then my money is on Budweiser. If you are reading this after the fact, then you know who won. But I don’t, ‘cause I didn’t watch the game.

This year, I predict, I went with Esmeralda and her friend Rhoda to the movies. I believe we watched a chick flick, but don’t ask me. I was probably sulking. Fed up at last with the emasculation of America’s great sport of football, I predict I will have folded my tent by the time you read  this. I  always thought football, the kind played across the pond, for sissies. It is played by lithe, little fellers in rippling, shimmering shorts running back and forth on a grassy field, hopping, jumping and kicking at a ball that flies as true as dart. The kind of football I was bought up with was played by guys named Bronco and Buzz with a ball that was anything but predictable once it hit the ground. Bronco and Buzz played the game because they loved it. Or perhaps because they were unfit for acceptable society. They belched. They released gas. And when they walked off the field at the end of the day, they hurt. They didn’t have iPhones and the point spread was the least of their worries. They only wanted to win.

Lately, I have begun to see what the rest of the world sees. It’s true that football, the kind the rest of the world plays, what we call soccer, has its quirks. For instance, no one ever scores unless you go to take a leak, at which point you hear the announcer scream from across a crowded barroom, through the restroom’s double oak doors, while peeing next to a vomiting cretin named Vinny, “GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAL!”

From my Yankee perspective, it has always been a sissy sport revered by a culture that has been steadily decaying since 1492, when the ambitious among the entire lot jumped ship for the promised land. But I have changed my tune. Ask me who the sissies are now and I will point to the prima donnas in the helmets, gathered along the sidelines covering the point spread on their iPhones…on Stupor Bowl Sunday. Next year, I predict, I will sleep in on Super Bowl Sunday. I may or may not go to the movies with Esmeralda and Rhoda. But one thing is for sure. I will still put my money on Budweiser.

They won the last XXLVICTRVWM years.

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