Yesterday my wife jokingly (I think) asked if I had upped my anti-depressant dosage to industrial strength. Remarking that I had been in an unusually good mood of late, I responded that I hadn’t watched the news or read the paper since 7:30 a.m. on June 12th. Lest you live in a cave you will recognize this as kick-off time across South Africa for the 2010 World Cup. And on top of that we’re neck deep in a fantastic Laker-Celtic NBA Finals. Ah sports, the salve for the beleaguered soul.
I’m quite sure that the BP oil leak is still leaking, Iran continues to thumb its nose at the UN, Israel remains public enemy #1, and President Obama continues his forced march toward his ideological abyss. I wouldn’t know because I am in sports heaven for a full month of global soccer madness. Three times a day during the preliminary rounds I have become one with the couch, in tune with the programming gods at ESPN.
Banking Regulation and Cap and Trade rhetoric have been replaced with debate over the 4-3-3 versus any other formation, Congressional blathering has been drowned out by the vuvuzela, and Barack the Bruiser’s tough guy political theater is eclipsed by players embellishment of fouls to draw a yellow card. Forget the gaffes of Biden, Holder, Pelosi, and Reid. How about Coach Fabio Capello; why did he wait to settle on England’s starting goalie until game time? Or Marcello Lippi; is he going to be able to motivate his Italians better than their opening effort against Paraguay? These are issues of true global importance, aren’t they? You bet they are. Great Britain estimates their economy will lose $1.4 billion in productivity, Paraguay and Honduras have declared game days for their countries’ teams as days off. Ghana and Ivory Coast may as well do the same.
Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court? Who cares? Dennis Blair’s replacement as Director of National Intelligence? Doesn’t matter. What I really want to know is why Francesco Totti and Luca Toni didn’t make the Italy squad or how could Dunga snub Ronaldinho for Brazil’s roster?
For one month, ESPN’s Bob Lee and Alexi Lalas have replaced Fox’s Brett Baier and Charles Krauthammer. If American politicians were really smart (which is a stretch in and of itself) they would try to sneak their more hideous ideas through the channels while we’re transfixed on why World Cup goalies seem so confused with the new Adidas ball or witnessing Kobe put down 19 points in one quarter with the same old NBA ball.
It’s not just the World Cup though; it’s March Madness and the Summer and Winter Olympics that fall into a specific category of distraction. We get entrenched for long periods of time that take us away from the insanity that American culture seems to have become. The World Series, NFL/NHL/NBA playoffs, The Masters, et al have their audiences however they are hit and run events. Two to three hours max on typically slow news days and you’re back to real life with all its complications and frustrations. But the World Cup; 270 minutes of action each day, the personalities, national passion, and theater. Same with the Olympics. It’s like the magnetic attraction of American Idol except you don’t feel embarrassed to admit you watch it.
On this Friday morning my first step isn’t getting the overnight tidbits from my news feeds on my computer, or Mike Shenk’s weekend crossword in the Wall Street Journal, or even a glimpse of Martha MacCallum on Fox News > it’s to see who took the NBA championship or find out who’s starting for in goal for Slovenia. Unfortunately I receive bad news on the NBA front, but I will survive because today is opening round coverage of the US Open at Pebble Beach! Like I said; “the salve for a beleaguered soul”.
All this brings me to an observation. What would life be like without sports, art, music, or an appreciation of nature? Vanilla. Pretty bland, I imagine. One has to wonder if the terrorist whack jobs that cause daily death and destruction were to look forward to something other than death and destruction, would they have the same zeal for havoc? What if the young aspiring jihadist took weekends off to go skiing on a mountain top, or fly fishing in a beautiful river, took a loved one to hear a concert, or lived for the weekly get-togethers at the pub to root for their favorite team. Sure it sounds Polly Anna-ish but it kind of makes you wonder; what if ….
I’d love to stay and chit chat however the BasicSpouse has issued an ultimatum. I have to finish my chores before I’m allowed to watch today’s matches. I have exactly one hour to mow the lawn, empty the trash, pay the bills, pick up some things at the store, wash the car and send out party invitations. No problem.