By Kyle | July 26, 2011
As I’ve aged I’ve grown increasingly rational, or at least I think I have, and so I have mixed feelings about the end of the NFL lockout. The NFL is probably the primary source of irrationality on my part, and yet perhaps I have (as Churchill and Hitchens say of strong drink) gotten more out of it than it has gotten out of me.
Why is being an NFL fan (or any kind of sports fan–but I’ve abandoned interest in all other sports including the Olympics, which is half sport and half patriotism) irrational? Because it imposes a cost (time — maybe lots and lots of time, in my case maybe six hours a week of watching and maybe another two hours of reading) and doesn’t pay you back in any way except emotionally, but those emotions are totally bogus and would, rationally, be resisted. I.e., I root for the Indianapolis Colts and care strongly about their fortunes even though I don’t know anyone on the team and no one on the team plays for it for any reason other than business ones. (I’ve also never lived in Indianapolis, or Baltimore, except for a coincidental fall I spent at Ft. Ben Harrison in Indy, but I’d argue that pretend civic ties are so bogus that you might as well root for whatever team catches your fancy regardless of geography. In other words, Johnny Damon doesn’t care whether he plays for the Yankees or Red Sox, so why should you?)
As for the reward, while it delivers a small thrill to see the Colts win lots of games, elite teams are judged solely on how many Super Bowls they win and a variety of stumbles and ill winds have left them with only a single victory in the top game. And last year they weren’t even one of the ten best teams in the league, though it’s possible they could improve this year. At any rate, it seems unlikely that the Peyton Manning-led Colts will win another Super Bowl. I love to see virtue rewarded and am disappointed when it isn’t. By my reckoning there were at least two years when the Colts were the premier team in the league and failed to win the Super Bowl, plus maybe three more when they were close enough to being the best team that they had a not-insignificant chance of winning if a few breaks had gone their way. If they had won even one of these five instead of zero, Manning would have two rings and would be, I think, properly acknowledged as the revolutionary quarterback he is. So that would be satisfying. As it is, so many quarterbacks have won two or more Super Bowls that Manning is automatically lowered to the second rank, which saddens me. In the absolute sense, I suppose, it makes no difference: Manning is what he is, and no one can take that away from him. Moreover, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if, like Ronald Reagan, he went on to have a second career that placed his seemingly successful first one very much in the background.
The onset of the NFL lockout so angered me (I couldn’t believe the owners seriously expected the players to take a huge pay cut, and in the event the players apparently won themselves a small raise) that I more or less banished it from my mind for the last four months, freeing up valuable brainspace for more important things. I regret having to re-dedicate a portion of my mind to what is almost certain to be an ultimately frustrating endeavor, with the accompanying wastage of more than 100 hours of my time over the next six months, all because of a thin hope for an (anyway) bogus and drug-like emotional payoff.
But at least I’m not a Buffalo Bills fan.
And if the Colts’ offensive line could somehow be as good as it was in the years when Tarik Glenn vaporized all comers on the blind side, who knows? I lapse into magical thinking….the drug starts to take effect….