Monday, February 04, 2008

Super Bowl Thoughts

I don't normally watch football.

If I want to see a bunch of sweaty men groping each other, interrupted by an authoritarian figure lecturing the audience on some illegal activity, only to watch said immorality over and over again, I'd turn on the Republican Senate caucuses on C-Span.

That said, I did tune in the fourth quarter of last night's Super Bowl after hearing on the car radio how close the game was.

Pretty exciting stuff, I must admit. The catch by David Tyree in the final scoring drive will likely go down in history with such plays as Johnny Sample's interception in SBIII as one of the greatest plays that a team didn't score on, but set them up to win.

Football bores me for several reasons, the primary of which I delineated earlier: too many penalties. It takes from whatever intrinsic beauty there is in the game when a well-executed play is nullified by a penalty that occured nowhere near the play and had nothing to do with its execution. If I was the NFL commissioner, I'd cut the number of official to three and make them focus on the play as it develops.

Too much padding, too. When I played pick up games, we played without pads, so if you "assassinated" someone, it hurt you as badly as it hurt him.

In college, I quarterbacked some divisional champions, nothing to brag about, and those were fun games. I can still toss a ball 60, maybe 70 yards with a perfect spiral.

But ten seconds of action followed by twenty minutes of beer commercials reminds me too much of sex with an ex.

American football is far too authoritarian a game, which probably explains a few things. For one thing, it explains why its so well liked in red states, whose denizens tend to be "authoritarian followers", to use Professor Robert Altmeyer's phrase. They believe in rigid logical structure and simplistic order, imposed and enforced by an authoritarian.

It also explains why football players are constantly invoking God in their interviews: the ultimate Authoritarian, from their perspective.

Republicans are the Daddy party, and now we understand why.

The lack of creativity in football also bores the hell out of me, which is why I like hockey and baseball. There's a dynamic missing in football that those two sports not only include, but demand: improvisation.

In football, you improvise only when you're in trouble (like Giants quarterback Eli Manning slipping the grasp of two tacklers before that pass to Tyree). In politics, we see the problem with waiting until it's too late, and then "ad hoc-ing" a solution: you end up with Oma bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

You'll notice that both of those are the result of the rigid short-term thinking of Republican administrations.

Me, I like creative thinking. Take the energy crisis: if I was NotPresident, I'd post a billion dollar prize to the company that could make a renewable energy source cleanly produce the same number of BTUs from the equivalent resource of one barrel of oil. Thnk the private sector would work its ass off for that? You betcha!

Like Republicans, football coaches can demand a "recount" (video review) if things don't go their way, rather than rely on the fact that people make mistakes, life is unfair, and you have to deal with the consequences when luck breaks against you.

Children stomp their feet and demand a do-over. Adults roll with the punch and move forward. Children are simple thinkers. They need authoritarians to instruct them and help them mature.

Adults learn to trust themselves and learn the value of making agreements.

Football is about measuring to some arbitrary standard (why yards? Why not meters or even feet?), specifically defined over a set period of time: it is about strict resource management. Republicans are about measuring to some arbitrary standard (money), specifically defined over a set period of time (fiscal years). Why?

It's a simple measure, yet easily manipulated, and rewards the simplistic at the expense of the sophisticated that might bring a bigger-but-more-nebulous benefit to your people, a tax cut versus a new bridge, for example.

Football is about possession, too, so there's another parallel to Republicanism. The more time you "have," the more time they are the "have-nots," and Lord knows, the Republicans are all about the "haves"! I imagine interceptions and fumbles are a liberal Robin Hood plot in football to Republicans.

Football is played in the mud and the dirt and the drab days of fall.

Perfect Republican weather: cold, blustery, dank.