February 8, 2010

Super Sunday: The Way It Should Be

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This almost became another column devoted to the greatness that is Cornell basketball 2010 style. Almost. Writing about the newly-ranked No. 22 team in the nation would have been a fairly simple task. Just ask the sports writers from any of the other Ivy League schools. Keep in mind Cornell has not even played all of the teams in its conference, yet I still am finding “expert” analysis from other Ancient Eight writers popping up on the Cornell Basketball Blog. Incorporate a few statistics, supplement them with several clichés, make some blanket statements about being ranked in the Top 25 and call it a day I guess.

However, Cornell is not even halfway through the conference portion of its schedule, so I will reserve judgment until a later date (or at least until Saturday night when the 6-0 Red travel to 4-0 Princeton).

Fortunately, there was a much bigger game played over the weekend. It’s an event when sports fans and non-sports fans set aside their differences and come together in front of the television set. It was Super Sunday Feb. 7, 2010, and the Sacramento Kings were in town to take on the Toronto Raptors. For the nine of you who actually watched that game on TSN, I’m sure it was a thriller as the Raptors prevailed, 115-104. For the three of you who actually laughed at that joke, thank you. However, for the other 106.5 million (a record high) who tuned into Super Bowl XLIV, let me ask you something.

How did you watch the game? Were you surrounded by friends and/or family? Did you order pizza? Drink beer? Did you party like it was your birthday?


Were you alone, afraid even the slightest human contact might detract from your enjoyment and concentration? Did you isolate yourself from the rest of society as you watched the final seconds of the 2009-10 football season tick off the clock?

Sadly, I fell into the latter category, which brings me to the topic of this column. What are avid sports fans expected to do in the event of a larger-than-life game? For years I have indulged the on-the-fringe sports fans in my life and “graced” them with my presence, but enough is enough.

It is one thing to talk during commercials, but to talk during the actual game is unforgivable. The only people I want to hear speak during a broadcast are my buddies, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. I know I’m not the only one like this. I have no issue with conversations regarding football during the game, but when they begin to focus on previously aired commercials or Spring Break plans, therein lies the rub.

If you are an Indianapolis Colts fan or New Orleans Saints fan, I’m sure you can attest to the aforementioned situation. (Note: I am speaking to the real fans of theseteams. How can you tell if you’re a real fan or a fake fan? I’m glad you asked. If you can fill in the appropriate blanks to the following statements, then welcome to the real fan club. “________ ________ is the backup quarterback for the Colts or the Saints.” “_______ _______ is one of five offensive linemen for either of the two Super Bowl participants.”)

There comes a time in every fan’s life when he or she must decide what feels right. Perhaps, it is my own fault I have not surrounded myself with equally fervent sports fans. Perhaps, I should have taken one for the team (nothing compares to using a sports cliché in a sports column), acted like a decent human being and socialized during the game. Sorry, Mom.

On the spectrum of sports fan absurdity, I would rate myself as a seven out of 10. I interned at WFAN Sports Radio in New York City this summer and there were hosts who would actually record live game statistics during the baseball season, not because they had to, but because they wanted to.

For the casual sports fan this may seem difficult to grasp, so I frequently employ the following analogy. Pick your favorite TV show. Now, visualize yourself watching the season finale. The volume is a little louder than normal. You tuned in five minutes before the show actually started. You have not missed an episode throughout the entire run of the series.

Now, picture me sitting adjacent to you, asking you why Dr. McSteamy and Dr. McGoodLookin’ are fighting or asking why Jack Bauer is in such a hurry. (I’ve never seen these shows but I assume these questions are the equivalent of asking “why the Colts don’t pass the ball on every play” or “every time you see Troy Polamalu, can you pull a player’s hair to block him”).

I must admit I was not completely alone Sunday evening as my girlfriend decided to work at my desk during the game. Fortunately, she understood the embarrassing significance I attached to watching this game in solitude. Unfortunately, she got distracted and hit me with a string of questions concerning the game. However, we quickly returned to the normal routine where I watch the game and she watches any commercial with a puppy or talking animal. (I will not dare to imagine what might happen if there was ever a commercial with a talking puppy.)

Behind this mutual agreement was the implicit understanding that this was my weekend. Next weekend is her weekend (although if you haven’t stopped reading by this point, Kelly, the NBA All-Star contest is on Valentine’s Day, so game on).

Watching the Super Bowl each year is a defining moment for most sports fans. I realize the majority of this column has crossed over the line from rational to absurd. I am not advocating a complete and total isolation from others during the big game, but you should be comfortable with your surroundings. If that means separating yourself from that person who asked if Peyton Manning is related to Eli Manning, then so be it.

Original Author: Matthew Manacher