FANS, NOT MORONS.
A year ago – eleven months to be exact – I wrote: "I hope, years from now, when things really 'get back to normal', we don't lose this incredible sense of patriotism – the importance that we now put on God and Country- before we watch a football game. Or wash the car, for that matter."
In a word –
or two to be exact – we haven't. At least as far as I'm concerned.
We may 'live or die' on the outcome of the upcoming Rams-Giants game, but come Monday we shower, shave and go off to work so we can bring home an average-sized paycheck. Just enough to cover the mortgage, grocery bills and little Johnny's latest 'teeth straightening' session at the orthodontist (who drives a Ferrari and loses a bundle on the Panthers every weekend).
So on the anniversary of the worst day America has faced in my lifetime I have to be reminded that sports should not be the 'be all, and end all of my existence'?
Newsflash for all you sports reporters: I've haven't met a single person who, for even a moment, thought that the Patriots-Rams game last February was going to "heal" the festering wounds of '9-11'.
There isn't a human being in these fifty United States that thinks that the outcome of a football game could somehow, miraculously, make the skyline of southern Manhattan become what it once was.
And there isn't a sensible man or woman protected by the U.S. Constitution that believes Vinny Testaverdei is more of a New York 'hero' than any of the men and women that wear the uniforms of N.Y's Finest or Bravest. Including Vinny Testaverde.
Sportsfans are fanatics. They care terribly about their teams. And every Sunday during football season they do 'live and die' by the success or failure of their favorite team.
But when the work week begins, these same sportsfans strap on the old shirt and tie (or skirt and blouse) and get back to the business of making a living.
Sports will never erase the memories of what happened to this country a year ago.
It's evident to the people that play the games. It's evident to the people that watch the games.
Apparently, it's not clear to the people that make their living writing about the games.
I have a family; I have a house and two cars like everybody else in middle America. And like everybody else, I have bills out the wazoo. But I take care of my family. I make sure they're happy and healthy (we're taking a trip to Disney Land this weekend). And believe it or not, I can put aside the fantasy football newsletter long enough to make the car and mortgage payments on time. Like most fans, we get by regardless of 'the final score'.
So why do most sportswriters feel it's necessary to tell me (and you) that what happened a year ago at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in a field in Pennsylvania will not go away just because some team wins a football game?
I know that, and so do you. Again, it's insulting.
Football, baseball, basketball – heck, even bowling – is simply another form of entertainment. And if I want to paint my face, put on the jersey of my favorite player and slip into a big foam finger every Sunday between September and January it doesn't mean I need to be reminded of the horrible tragedies that have rained down on our beloved Country.
And it doesn't mean I'll ever forget.
But for everybody who worries about the bills and the doctor appointments, and feels the pressure of 'I need that by Friday' and 'we're out of diapers, again', the NFL is a great escape – a diversion plain and simple.
Just give us enough credit to know that even if the Giants win, the baby still needs diapers and the kid flying over the handlebars still needs to have his teeth fixed.
This week, with tears in my eyes and a heavy heart, I watched TV's condensed version of America's greatest tragedy. I, and you, know the difference between that and the 'game of the week'.
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