Saturday, December 20, 2014

Before You Say Anything...

The college football "Bowl Season" kicks off (pun intended!) today.  Although there are close to 1,937 bowl games to be played between today and the National Championship Game, which will not be played until January 12, 2015 (NO I'M NOT KIDDING), my beloved Alma mater shall not be a participant yet again this year.  When the University of Nevada Wolf Pack and the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns clash at 11:00 am Eastern Time this morning in the New Orleans Bowl, theirs shall be the first of thirty-nine such get-togethers.  

Some of the contests might capture your interest.  A considerable number of them - and perhaps all of them - might not.  But the fact that neither you nor I has any rooting interest in the outcome of the "Roto-Rooter Raw Sewage Bowl" from Camden, New Jersey or some such thing does not diminish the experience of the game itself for the young men who shall play.  Nor does it diminish the experience for the families of the aforementioned young men, including those of whom are hopefully able to be present to cheer for their favorite player in person. 

It has been said that an athlete dies twice with the first time being the final time he or she puts on the uniform and participates in a game.  A percentage of the kids who are suiting up for their respective schools shall, when they run out of the tunnel and onto the field - whether in New Orleans, Louisiana, Boise, Idaho or the Bronx - do so for the final time.  A game that each has played since perhaps he was too young to actually remember when he first played it, which game has been an integral part of his day-to-day for most of his life and which (He says hopefully) has afforded him the chance to go to college, which chance might otherwise have not been available to him, is about to move from the present tense to the past tense.  For the rest of his life.  

I played varsity sports enthusiastically - if not especially well - in high school.  Although it was thirty autumns ago, I still remember the final soccer game of my senior season.  We lost at The Hun School in Princeton.  It was a regular season game, played after we had been eliminated from the State Tournament by Morristown-Beard.  My coach, Howard Freeman, did what he should have done in the second half of that last game, which was play the underclassmen who would form the backbone of his team the following year.  

Doing so, however, meant that those of us who had played essentially every minute of every game - which I had done - spent the final few minutes of our competitive soccer career on the bench adjacent to the field rather than on the field itself.  A seventeen-year-old high school senior, I was less than enthralled at the manner in which my time spent playing the sport I loved to play far more than any other drew to a close.  I was plenty pissed off about it that day and for a number of days that followed.  

I am far from smart.  Yet, even I was able to appreciate that the door that swung closed on that cold, miserable November afternoon was one that was not subject to being reopened.  Not ever.  

The moral of this story?  I suppose it is this:  Unless and until you officially replace the Sun as the center of the Universe (and here is a tip - I am the heir to that particular throne), the mere fact that these sporting events are insignificant to you does not mean that their purported insignificance is a universal truth.  Opinion and fact are not - surprise, surprise - the same thing.

You are certainly within your rights to express your opinion as to their relative lack of meaning to your life.  You are to do so, however, without shitting on the kids - and their families - to whom they mean significantly more.  

-AK    


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