Sunday, February 6, 2011

American Idol -- Do you prefer your calf black or green?

Yes, it's Super Bowl Sunday here in America, the closest thing to a national religious holiday we have. (You might say, "Well what about Christmas, Leslie?", but as every American knows there's even a big linguistic fight over 'holiday trees' and such. So really, the only thing that unites us is football.)

Let me say at the outset that I'm not against football at all, and I don't think that everyone who watches football has some sort of religious worship of it. I just personally don't care. I've even tried to care -- really, I have. But from my own perhaps rare perspective of having little emotional attachment to the teams playing or the game itself, I must say that it's pretty funny to see the fervor and devotion expressed by people about football that, quite frankly, would be almost unheard of as expressions of religious devotion in American culture.

Seriously, when you are emotionally detached from it, statements like these after the game are weird:

"Oh, Steeler nation, what now?"
"Though it will be temporary, I'm feeling hopeless right now..."
"No more black and yellow. It's green and yellow now!"
"The Packer nation will rise up."
"In which color do you prefer your golden calf -- black or green?"

Alright, so I just made up that last one. And of course, I am exaggerating -- not everyone is that serious about football. But honestly, can you imagine the average American giving as much devotion to their faith as they do to their favorite football team? I think the USA would be a very different place.

Now I must admit, I was a little sorry when I heard that the Steelers lost. I was surprised that I cared at all, but after some years of living in Steubenville, Ohio (just 40 minutes from Pittsburgh), I think that some of the Steeler mania rubbed off on me. Really, if you live out there people don't accept the idea that you don't care about football -- they seem to take it as a personal affront, and so I think I became a bit of a Steelers fan for fear of being lynched.

Even high school football is crazy out there -- while Steubenville is a rather economically depressed area, you'd better believe that the Big Red football team of Steubenville High School has an amazing stadium featuring a fire-breathing horse. (I wish I was only kidding.) Check it out!

As I mentioned before, there was a point in my life where I really did try to care about and understand football. I majored in music education and performance for my undergraduate degree, and so there was a very real chance that I might end up leading a high school marching band. As I knew from 4 years of personal experience, that involved a lot of football games. And I realized that for as many games as I'd attended, I had no idea what was actually happening in the game. (I did a lot of socializing, though -- that aspect of football I enjoy!) I knew that if I was leading the band during the games, we would probably be playing our fight song when the other team made a touchdown and other inappropriate things -- but even though the band's songs would be inopportunely timed, you can be sure that they would be musically excellent! (Sadly, real football fans don't seem to care that much about musicality.)

In any case, I've given up dreams of a potentially lucrative career as a marching band instructor for poorly paid work for the Catholic Church and blogging for free, so you can all rest easy knowing that the pep bands will be playing the appropriate music at all of the local football games.

In closing, I'd like to tell the Packers congrats and the Steelers so sorry. And for America, I have an idea. How 'bout we try to rise up as one nation under God? It might produce better fruit than a Packer or Steeler nation. Just a thought. :)

Peace and all good,


  1. Another awesome post, Leslie! I too, couldn't give a rip about football and wish people would get half as excited about their faith as they do about eating nachos and drinking beer, haha! You were much nicer in your delivery, of course. I must admit I get a bit sad when I see so many empty seats at church on Super Bowl Sunday every year. I just tell myself that EVERYONE went on Saturday or one of the earlier masses on Sunday and fulfilled their obligation, it makes me feel better.
    Side note: Have you ever watched the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet? It's on Super Bowl Sunday every year now and your girls would love it...darling puppies frolicking for 2 hours in a replica stadium accompanied by cheerleading chickens, a water bowl cam, and the kitten half-time show! They even had a blimp fly over the 'stadium' this year that was operated by hamsters! How I wish they had such adorable, endorphin rush-inducing G-rated entertainment like this on television ALL the time....

  2. Oh, Leslie, this lover of football LOVES a good marching band. I was in the drill team in high school and we didn't have anything close to a good marching band. :/

    I had the opportunity to go to the USC v. Stanford game in 2009. The contrast between the two bands was like watching the difference between good and evil. I will give you a hint, a school that starts with an S is a rude, depraved, motely crew that I can't believe the college president approves of.

    It is funny you mention the National Religious festival of Super Bowl. I am planning on using this as an example with the pre-Confirmation students tomorrow. LOL

    And, did you notice that "God Bless America" was sang before the "National Anthem?" Nice.

  3. I'm surprised that you have such strong feelings regarding the 'leisure time' of others - one person's leisure is another person's road to sloth I guess. Me? I fell asleep during the game - that's how much I cared. Loved watching the Puppy Bowl too...

    A couple of things I'd like to add- loving sports or physical competition is healthy but you're right to point out the mania that surrounds it - the trifecta of American self-centeredness; gambling, violence, and voyeurism. I was saddened by seeing the church attire of those at mass @ 7:30 mass - nearly every usher had a Pittsburgh shirt or jersey on; I hate that team (or rather the bandwagoning of those who live 3000 miles away) but even if I didn't - I have to say that I would have thought that someone's better judegement would have prevailed at some point but I guess not. The game was at 3:00pm - 8 hours away, was it really necessary to 'dress the part?' and would one wear church clothes to a sporting event?...

    Secondly, similarly, at Holy Innocents, our last month's class was during the Championship games - there were some parents were called their kid out of class, who came to pick up their kids early, or who in a rush to sign them out so that they can get back to the game... Very sad indeed; teenagers (despite them thinking they don't need anybody) are at their most vulnerable - they know what priorities their parents have. How are we supposed to compete against that?

    When I taught at Colton, Colton was a football school - we were being sued for being out of compliance of the William settlement (long-story short - we didn't have enough books for everyone) but they raised millions for a brand new football stadium. My last year, the team went to CIF - during that playoff game week, there was virtually NO education going on - between pep rallies, and teachers being pulled out to work on a project, and spirit week assemblies, and lunch time activities, and the administration meeting with city and press officials; it was if the rest of the children were just filling in space for the 'real' school. I love sports and watching them but you aren't far off about the Green/Black calf thing. And, I'm not sure about your experiences but I can attest to the fact that it is FAR worse for african-american students; the pressure put on them from children vis a vis sports far outweighs any academic challenges they need to prepare for.

    Lastly, HS football and HS sports in general, by its very design is exclusionary. How many people can play football? CIF rules have limits and I think its around 60 or so; so even if you have practice squads and 4 teams (one for each grade level), you're talking about - at most, 250 kids involved in program at a schools with over 3000 students. Even if its 100 per team, that would only be 12-15% of the school at most! Even when you add in other sports and consider that some students play more than one sport - HS athletics cannot involve any more than 20-25% of a student body of 3000 students. The system, for kids, is designed for the entertainment of others, not for the betterment of those involved and its not much different in the NFL...

  4. Thanks for the comments, y'all! Denise, thank you for appreciating the good marching bands of the world! Matthew, your observations are interesting -- and I commend you for experiencing leisure at its finest by falling asleep during the game. ;) Maureen, I have never seen the Puppy Bowl, but it sounds amazing! If anyone throws a Puppy Bowl party next year, my girls and I will be there! :)