Monday, February 2, 2009

A Small, Timely Diversionary Celebration

Being a fan is not an intellectual undertaking>

It's strangely amusing that a single sports event can transcend the travails of the day, almost regardless of who's in the room. My wife and I joined a group of mostly journalists for the Super Bowl last night (for a half anyway; I can't do more than that) and I don't recall a single observation about the economy entering the room. The new president's name came up, but the discussion wasn't about policy, it was, essentially: "Oh my, President Obama sounds good." Next sentence was an observation about Pittsburgh's play choice on a third and three from Arizona's 43 yard line: "They're running right, off tackle." And so they did.

It's not what I would have expected, but maybe I should have. I have been a football fan for lo these many years and one of the primary reasons I enjoy sport of nearly any kind is that it is a diversionary drama with its own tightly-constructed set of rules, its own goals, its own morality. It is clear, clean and not especially complex--which makes it the anti-politics (though hardly "the game of life" that blockhead coaches often refer to. Former presidential candidate and hero of my youth Gene McCarthy once said of football, "You have to be smart enough to understand the game and dumb enough to think it's important").

But, yes, I enjoy the game of politics, as well, God forgive me. It is competitive, trash-talking nonsense that on its best day can rescue a sick child and on its worst can produce a Bush administration or a Rod Blagojevich.

Last night's was a gathering of often intense, intellectually astute people who were in full throat (mostly black and gold full throat, which is loud and produces excellent food), but their intellect extended fully to the point that work and play can be separated for a time to the benefit of both.

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