Monday, September 27, 2004

Eyebrows Likes Her Sports Traditional

I hit the college sporting world this weekend, to see my favorite gridiron guys smack down an undeserving team from out west. Ah, the glory that is college football - golden autumn Saturdays with the most perfect air, the smell of hot dogs on the open grills, the shouts of little kids in big jerseys chasing dad's imperfect spirals across the quad. And truly, it could scarcely have been a more perfect weekend - 70 degrees, fluffy happy clouds in a painfully blue sky, a monstrous ass-kicking delivered by my Domers. It was my husband's initiation into the world of big-time collegiate football, as he attended a school without a football team to speak of, and it was like the universe conspired to make it the most perfect football Saturday ever. Now maybe I can convince him to go every year!

But there was one thing disturbing about the weekend. Let me describe the scene inside the stadium. 80,000 screaming fans. Tight buttocks in football pants. Sun shining off golden helmets. Freshmen trying to start a wave, over and over and over. (Freshmen love the wave. What's up with that?) A sea of green T-shirts. And the flickering of a television screen. Wait, what? Yes, a television screen. The nice gentleman on our left had a handheld Sony TV and was alternately watching the Cubs/Mets game and the game that was occurring right in front of us. You know, the one he could have seen by looking up from his 3" TV screen for 30 seconds? He was watching it on TV. We could hear the distant tinny rattle of tiny announcers trapped in his magic picture box and turned up way too loud on his earpones. I found this a little odd, but as a die-hard Cubs fan myself, I can understand how the temptation follow those loveable losers (this could be the year!) could lead one to sneak a transistor radio into school, or watch the game on a silent TV while picnicing at Ravinia to the strains of the CSO.

But he wasn't the only one. Everyone around us was on their cell phones. The conversations all went something like this: "Hey, Joe, okay, where are you? Behind the band? How many rows back? Near the guy with the orange hat? Okay, stand up and wave! No, look towards me. See the fat guy in the white hat? Okay, I'm like three rows behind him. I'm going to stand up and wave. [action suited to words.] Can you see me? Hi! I can see you!"

They weren't even calling people outside the stadium to share the roar of the crowd, or gloat about having gotten such coveted tickets. No, they were calling other people in the stadium to wave to them. I'm so sure this is what God intended when He invented cell phones. And it wasn't isolated. Or young people. It was 50-year-old men with beer guts calling other 50-year-old men with beer guts. And everyone was doing it. My dad told me later that it's often impossible to make cell phone calls from the stadium to, like, check in with the babysitter or make sure your son fed the dog because so many people are calling when the game is going on that it jams up all the cell towers.

Are you kidding me? People get the hottest ticket in college sports and spend the entire game on the telephone? What happened to watching the game? To relaxing with 80,000 of your closest friends? To admiring the cheerleaders' legs and listening to the band's bursts of sound? I mean, at least at the House that Rockne built, you don't have to listen to painful canned rock-n-roll or watch a jumbotron. It's sports the way it should be, like a ballpark with an organ or a manual scoreboard with a little dude inside listening to the radio for scores. You don't go to live sporting events to get MTV-ized or even ESPN-ized. You go to eat Cracker Jacks or hot dogs or massive hot pretzels shedding salt, and boo the refs and enjoy the slower pace of life and the traditional trappings of sports: Marching bands. Cheerleaders so tirelessly perky they make Mary Tyler Moore look suicidal. Conversations with neighbors about bad calls and good arms. Not conversations with some idiot across the stadium about where you and he are sitting.

Call me crazy, but I go to sporting events to watch the game and soak up the ambiance, not call everyone I know. I have 164 hours ever week to do that. Can't I spend those precious four immersed in sporting rituals without listening to 400 different shrill cell phone rings?

Want a link-back? E-mail Eyebrows. (Click on the link in the upper left because I'm not figuring out how to insert an e-mail link again. I am not that smart.)

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