It’s Superbowl Sunday. Pre around 1980 I would be really fired up about that and anxiously waiting for the game. We’ve got the pool heated and the new play yard ready for our Superbowl party- 4-5 families and lots and lots of kids. I love get togethers like this and can’t wait for everyone to get here.
But I don’t care a whit about the game. I’ve been thinking about how little I care about NFL football and trying to map out how I got from huge fan to not even remotely a fan.
I still watch a lot of sports, but almost all of it is college sports. I still like major league baseball a little- the Astros’ trip to the World Series is a “pinch myself” moment for me. I haven’t watched one consecutive minute of the NBA in years- I don’t really consider it basketball. It’s more like entertainment for the X-Box generation.
But football. Where did I lose my love of pro football?
I remember as a kid pulling for my favorite teams. First, the Colts with Johnny Unitas. Then briefly the Dolphins, and ultimately the Raiders. From Daryl Lamonica to Kenny Stabler, the Raiders were my team.
But somewhere along the way our country’s obsession with money infected pro sports. Golf used to be measured by average score or maybe tournaments won. Now it’s measured (in the paper and on the course) by how much money you’ve won. Similarly, the NBA has lost generations of fans by becoming a league of tattooed, jewelry wearing mercenaries. As I have said here before, I know very few, if any, people who go to NBA games on their own nickel.
While I used to love watching Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Doctor J, Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley play, sitting here today I can’t match 10 NBA players with their teams. Why? Because I find the product the NBA is selling to be utterly uninteresting.
The NFL has done a better job than the NBA at keeping at least some of the focus on the sport as opposed to the money and the lifestyle. But the almighty dollar and the bling bling lifestyle have affected the NFL as well. Players like TO have done more to turn me off of the sport than the Kenny Stablers, Walter Paytons and Earl Campbells did to make me love it. When I see some guy start to dance like Tigger after making a tackle or getting a first down, I switch channels. I don’t hate them for acting like idiots. I just find it boring.
I remember one year, around 1980, when I had to choose between going skiing or watching the superbowl (the Raiders were playing, but I had abandoned them as my favorite team after Stabler left). I went skiiing. Had a lot of fun and never looked back.
And before someone reminds me in a Comment, going to school at the football powerhouses of Wake Forest and Vanderbilt probably didn’t help my football fan development either.
But at least college football is still a little about the sport. They keep the Ikky Shuffle problems somewhat under control.
It’s still sports, mostly. The NFL just isn’t sports to me anymore.
But the commercials are good and The Stones are playing at halftime. And the pool is heated. And some other folks, most of whom care little about the game, are coming over.
Life is good.