Monday, September 11, 2006

When a town loses

Mills of the gods

The local college football team was beaten fairly, squarely and pretty soundly on Saturday night. Everyone had been pointing to this particular game since practices began. Actually, anyone with half of a brain could have predicted how it would turn out, but this did not stop the general shock and dismay the townsfolk all felt throughout the rest of the weekend, running into today. Luckily, today is the anniversary of 9/11, a real tragedy, so we are kind of blending in with the rest of the nation. But I guess that's my point.

How come the civic pride suffers so much when a home team loses ? In the end, who the hell cares ? No one dies. Only rarely do you personally know someone on the team, so you can't even feel sorry for someone. I have long believed (because I read it somewhere) that it is based on mass identification. The same thing that makes people cry on 9/11. The same thing that made people go to torch lit ceremonies for Hitler. We like to identify with something bigger than ourselves. It works for good and evil both. But football is neither good nor evil, which is why it is so sad that so many people take it so seriously.As Jerry Seinfeld observed, you are really cheering for laundry out there. The people are interchangable.There were almost 90,000 people at the game on Saturday night. Another 10-20,000 people from Ohio were here without tickets (they really cared !). I don't know how many other people in town watched the game on T.V., but I will bet that it was well in excess of 300,000. For arguments sake, lets say half a million people dedicate about 4 hours of their lives to this game, although the outcome really meant nothing to them beyond psychic thrill or disappointment (OK, a good number had bets on the game). That is 2 million man hours spent on the event. If your time is only worth $10 an hour, that's $20 million dollars. What could a city do with 2 million manhours or $20 million dollars. Now here, we would build luxary boxes at the stadium, but suppose you lived in a town with real needs, or, more accuratly, one that cared about it's real needs ? Even if you were a real stingy guy, you could lower taxes. If you were a dreamer, you could build a school which would have a life span of at least 50 years ! Think of that, you could have a building which would house the education of at least 50,000 people over that time. We don't do this because we care about the wrong things. No one should take away the educations of 50,000 kids because they want their team to beat Ohio State. Now beating Notre Dame or the University of North Caroliana, that would have been worth it to me.


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