Last Sunday I was on a plane headed to Dallas which began its journey in Charlotte. Every third person seems to be wearing a piece of clothing showing a black panther and opining why their hero is maligned, or of why they’re looking forward to The Game. And this week, it’s going to be hours of incessant talk of football, astronomical costs of commercials, point spreads, failures, former stars, and of course, The Game.
Am I a bit jealous because it’s been twenty years since the ‘Boys have been there? No, not really.
Although it has been decades since I’ve stepped on a field, I remember the smell of the turf, the pain of contact, and playing a game of orchestrated violence. It was wonderful — even with all it’s potential for harm – mental and physical. Yet, with the advent of fantasy leagues and the billions of dollars spent on marketing to “enhance” the game, I have become concerned that many are no longer willing to play (at whatever form) the game, but would rather watch a surrogate, or play Madden.
I look at the craziness of college alums and the money they’re willing to spend to have a winning team, and it truly concerns me. I look at what people are willing to pay to go to the Superbowl and it shocks me. I guess it’s a sign of the times regarding all of the professional sports. Money has forever changed the “game” to entertainment.
For those who played for the love of the game; who were willing to work hard and get cut, and then work harder to make the team; to momentarily be a hero, or a goat; the game was a way to grow and understand a lot about ourselves. We learned that winning is important, but knowing that you were willing to make the commitment to be on the field as a player, and accomplish goals you may not have thought possible – that made the game a life learning experience. Something you don’t get by watching ESPN or FOX, or playing on your Xbox.