Monday, January 15, 2018


I am not a football person. In fact, I would go so far as to say I abhor the sport. College football is nothing more than a farm system that shows little progress from the days of enslaved gladiators. Professional football is nothing more than gladiators in tight pants running up and down a field, crashing into each other, all the while voluntarily damaging their brains. And just like the spectators at Circus Maximus, the crowd cheers endlessly for blood, guts, and gore. And I don't mean Al Gore, either.

Ziggy was a football kinda guy even though he hated to admit it. My guys can tell you stories about Dad sitting on the couch in the family room screaming at the television. He called them the Viqueens because "they play like little girls," and he would clutch his heart every time they lost a close game...which wasn't all that often because winning wasn't always their thing. But watch them he did, grumble he did, and happy dances he did occasionally. More often than not, he would bemoan how "they are breaking my heart. Again." 

Last week, he would've said, "They have three more weeks to break my heart." 

And Sunday's game woulda given him the BIG one. That's a fer sure. 

In a play that defied all imagination, the Vikings won on Sunday with less than a single second on the clock. Ziggy woulda keeled over. In fact, I think I will go out to the cemetery this week just to make sure he's still there. 

The Vikes will face the Eagles next week, which pits me against my bro in Philly. He's an Eagles fan. So much so, I called him Saturday night after they won to wish him mazel tov. And now, we will have a Minnesota-Philadelphia match up. 

I will admit, this is all very exciting, what with the Vikings having only two more weeks in which they can break the collective heart of Minnesota. We've had a tough year. We lost Senator Franken. Senator Klobuchar turned out to be a huge disappointment. We've been living in Antarctic conditions for the last few weeks. And now the possibility of a hometown Super Bowl. Well, if that's doesn't lift the spirits....and the wallet right outta yer pocket.....

The Stupid Bowl is a whole lotta aggravation, money, and inconvenience for an afternoon of guys in shiny knickers running up and down the field...even if half of 'em are wearing purple and gold. From the safety of Mendota Heights, I watch the gyrations going on across the river, thankful I don't work downtown in Minneapolis.  

They've closed off streets. They're installing a zip line over the Mississippi River ..G-d knows how much they're going to charge poor, unsuspecting tourists for the chance to slide over downtown in 20F...but don't plan on going because it's already sold out. The Chapstick concession is probably worth a fortune! Oh, the humanity as tourists pour into Minnesota for an experience of a lifetime, and I don't mean the Super Bowl....I mean their faces freezing in the five minutes taking selfies with the Mary Tyler Moore statue. Ja, sure you betcha, the weather dweebs says it's gonna be in the +20s for that weekend although no one has mentioned windchill, but they've not been right about anything else this winter, so I'm putting little stock in their prognostications. 

1886 St. Paul Ice Castle
Never to be outdone, St. Paul's annual winter fun-fest, the 132nd Winter Carnival, is set to kick-off (pun intended) on January 24th. There's always stuff for Winter Carnival, but that's an annual event and has its own crowd. We, the People of St. Paul, will have a 7-story ice castle in Rice Park. That ice palace is kinda a regular thing. It's really cool. And it's not a football game. The ice sculptures in Mears Park are always brilliantly worth the trip to see. 

Harvesting ice from Green 
LakeErica Dischino / Forum News Service

This year, they sold blocks of ice to pay for  the ice palace.  You get a certificate and  everything. And yes, I bought a  block of ice  for Little Miss. Hey! We're St. Paul people  over  here, okay? (I'll post a picture after we  go see it. )

In spite of all the brouhaha, over in Minneapolis..and the rest of the country, it's still about football. Yeah, the hotels are full for that weekend. Yeah, a lot of money comes waltzing into the Twin Cities. Yeah, having the Super Bowl here is a seriously big deal. I get it. I understand it brings people in and maybe brings people back. Whatever. For me, that's not enough of a reason.

Football is nothing more than a gladiator fight. People volunteer to be physically abused. The amount of brain damage that will take place over the next few weeks is incalculable. The long term cost to the players, their families, the communities is inestimable. As a nation, we choose to allow kids and grown men alike to play a sport we know damages brains. It even has its own name: C.T.E. - chronic traumatic encephalopathy. We do nothing to discourage or prevent this type of injury. Is this some kind of macho thing? Apparently so because there are little kids all over the country suiting up to play.

One might think in this age of re-examination of our actions, we might question violent sports like football and boxing. We might think about what we're telling our boys about how to be men when we send them out on the field to annihilate another team. Do we really need to be supporting a kill-or-be-killed mentality in our kids? Is this what we want to teach them?

There is a bigger question to ask: Why are we still instilling belligerence in our children? We pretend to be teaching them to be less sexually aggressive, to respect and regard others with respect, to be aware of the people around us. How does football fit into a model that is changing? There is a difference between being competitive and being combative.

Years ago, someone told me football was a metaphor for life. I don't think so; I think it's a metaphor for death and destruction. If you cannot rape, pillage, and destroy in real life, here's a place to do it on the field. That's not life; that's vicariously watching others maim and destroy while imagining yourself in chain mail wielding a sword.

That probably is not that okay.

As I write this, I am acutely aware that today, January 15th, is Dr. Martin Luther King Day in the US. Would he find the treatment of African-American student-athletes reprehensible? Would he consider the elevation of the game a betrayal of the reason one goes to college in the first place? Would he think the athletic drafts nothing more than a slave-trade made legal? If he were alive, would Dr. King have spoken up against voluntary brain damage? And would he have forced the issue of BREATHING WHILE BLACK and changed the national conversation about African American kids? 

These are not separate issues: they are part of the greater gestalt. We cannot address gender inequality without addressing racial inequality. We cannot talk about sexual harassment, abuse, and assault without also talking about  hate crimes. We cannot delude ourselves into believing we are making viable changes to our society unless we are talking about all those things. They are Venn diagrams: circles intersecting circles intersecting circles. Each sphere touches another sphere; you cannot change one without ultimately changing the others. 

If we want to talk about football as a metaphor for anything, it has to be the place where all things wrong go to meet: bullying, violence, discrimination, racism, elitism, harassment, sexual abuse, and narcissism amongst others. if you want to change what happens to those kids before they become victims of C.T.E. and begin to behave accordingly, you have to start having this conversation in grade school. Waiting until some semi-grownup locker room is not a viable option. 

I will admit a Viking win on Sunday would be nice...even if my big brother the Eagles fan just sent me this: 

A Viking win on Super Bowl Sunday would be downright scary...what with hell freezing over and all that. But if they told me they were calling off the games due to premeditated violence. I would not mind one bit.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
There is no rule, law, statute, or even local suggestion that 
is binding when it comes to the Super Bowl.
You are NOT required to watch it. 

If you want to read a really good book instead, 

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