Hannah and Papa J

Hannah and Papa J

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Sounders 'til I die

Dear Hannah,

Political bumperstickers may be more annoying than bumperstickers about sports, but in terms of insanity they lag very far behind them.  I've never understood what it is that could lead anyone to place a bumpersticker for or against gay marriage on the back of his car, because it implies it was the only opinion he thought worth me knowing.  You would think that maybe it might be better to shout religious slogans if anything at all.  You'd think that if you had only a single chance to deliver a message to the person behind you, it might be preferable to choose something aimed at the realization of mortality -- or maybe about the possibility of entering into eternal damnation (which many people claim to believe, but are too polite to consider warning us about).

Or you can skip all of politics and religion and post something about how much you love the Seattle Sounders.  And if you're really interested in going the extra mile in your support of the Sounders, which I would argue you already have by excluding every other possibility to say any possible thing for any possible purpose, you might even go so far as to pledge your fidelity to the sports team in writing.  I saw it earlier today on somebody's SUV.  The message was plain and simple: Sounders 'til I die, which means that whoever this is considered the possibility that a younger and sexier sports team might come his way in the future, but that his fidelity had already been established in such a manner as to render his affections permanent.

The only thing this left me thinking is that I'm sorry I missed the wedding.  I'm sorry I missed the moment when he tied the knot to a group of men he's probably never met, who probably never pledged their affections to him in the first place because they never met the prerequisite of knowing him at all.  At the very least it's appropriately gay for a Seattle suburb; and I'm guessing that the hopeless act of throwing yourselves into the arms of a soccer team has a backward kind of romance about it.  I've heard of many men pledging their undying affections to women who didn't love them, which is tragic (seeing as how I was one of them); and I've heard of fewer men pledging their affections to women who didn't know them, which is oftentimes embarrassing (and occasionally Indian).  To pledge it to a group of unknown jocks is romantic to the point of hilarity.  It almost suggests that the person with the sticker has never had a country or a woman.

Professions of athletic fidelity are something so backward to anyone who really thinks about them that they can only escape our notice by being something ubiquitous.  A pledge of devotion is too dramatic a turn of events to go without either censure or approval.  An oath before God and strangers to strangers probably without gods (for basketball players especially are the most godless of mankind) requires a reaction -- which most usually comprises a shrug if anything at all.  The only thing worse than our mindless pledges is our indifference to their mindlessness.  The only thing worse than our insanity is our treating insanity as normal.

But if we took sports fidelity and wrote it off as completely ridiculous, I think we'd be missing the point.  Sports fidelity is still fidelity.  And there's a kind of honor in supporting something whether it wins or not, because supporting something whether it wins or not may be the only kind of support worth praising.  An eternal fidelity means we've finally found something we couldn't do without.  The problem isn't that people give their undying support to something.  It's that they feel they can only express it in sports.  It's that marriages aren't romantic enough and patriotism and religion are too "uncivilized" and dangerous to speak about in a society policed by easy and easily offended women. Our problem is that we're terrified of expressing our virtues virtuously.  We've given up all the great things and been forced to fight for anything, because men will always need to fight for something.  Sports are the last refuge of a dying masculinity.  Professions of athletic fidelity are proof that a man never lived for anything worth pledging himself to.

Your father,

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