The culprit, as usual, was sports.
Blue Jays 4, Indians 0. Bottom of the 9th. Travis Buck hits single. Big deal. Matt Laporta hits a double, Buck to third. Big deal. We’re still down by four. Jack Hanahan walks. Pitching change. Michael Brantley strikes out. Ugh. At least put it in play Brantley. I’m going to bed…well, Cabrera is coming up. I’ll watch him hit. Single. Cool. 4-1. At least we scored. Here comes Hafner. He’s hitting well. Maybe he can make it interesting…but he’ll probably hit into the double play. First pitch. Crushed it.
“GRAND SLAM! GRAND SLAM! INDIANS WIN! HAFNER! GRAND…Oh my…AHHHHHHH!”
I bump the coffee table as I make multiple laps around my living room, waving my arms, screaming, jumping and acting like a maniac. It is kind of late. My girlfriend is asleep. Well, she was asleep. I’m in trouble, but I don’t care.
“That was amazing,” I think. “I just might be able to live without football.”
As the NFL lockout drags on, my frustration has continued to grow. The NFL is the most exciting sport in the world but in a stagnant state now for over 100 days, it is starting to lose some of it’s luster.
The NFL offseason, while not nearly as exciting as it’s regular season, still usually holds plenty of excitement and intrigue. The NFL draft, free agency, training camps, mini-camps and trades all bring excitement and news that helps us bridge the gap from the end of the Super Bowl to kickoff at the Hall of Fame game.
Where does all this offseason excitement come from?
In the NFL, any year can be your team’s year. The distance between the best teams and the worst teams is so slim that a few moves here and there, the right schedule and a little bit of luck can propel any team into the post season and an improbable Super Bowl run.
Ok, maybe not the Bengals, but you get the point.
Unfortunately, because of the lockout, all of that is gone. It is harder to get excited about the season. There has been no free agency. There is uncertainty about if and when the lockout will end. Fans are disgusted. Not just at the greed of the owners and players, but at the absence of hope.
Still, is that enough to chase us away from a game we all love?
What are we going to watch? The NBA?
Nope. They’re locked out too.
What about the “other” football?
The other day I was at the gym on the treadmill when I turned on a women’s soccer game. Just as I started to get into the action, two of the women bumped into each other. It was a collision no more violent than one I experience a dozen times a day while walking the streets of New York City. Yet both women suddenly fell to the ground as though some invisible sniper had simultaneously shot them both in the knee. Play continued while one woman rolled around on the ground screaming and the other laid flat on her stomach, her face buried in the grass.
“Heh,” I thought. “Well, looks like that one’s career is potential over and that one is dead.”
Sorry, I can’t get behind a sport that is kind of boring to begin with and then encourages it’s players to act like wimps in order to win.
What is left? Golf? Hockey? Tennis?
All of those sports can be exciting. A playoff in golf, overtime in hockey, match points in tennis. All sports can leave us riveted, clenching our fists with excitement.
But not like football.
Even baseball, our former national pastime, the game that had me leaping around like a fool last night, is fatally flawed. You see, because even last night, after I completed my laps around the coffee table and replayed Hafner’s grand slam 100 times, I realized that it was a thrilling end to what had been eight and a half innings of horrendously boring baseball.
It just isn’t the same.
No, we’ll all come crawling back and the NFL knows it. That is why the owners weren’t afraid to lock the players out. That is why the players weren’t afraid to take the fight to court. The only reason things are picking up now is because both sides are in real danger of losing money if there are missed games, and in the end, this whole thing is about money.
In the end, our addiction to football and the owners’ and players’ greed is what will save us all. There is too much money to be lost for them and too much excitement and fun to be lost for us to turn our backs on football on principle.
Like it or not, the NFL is king.