Wednesday, November 22, 2023

20 years later - Michigan 2003

Sports aren’t important. Relative to family, friends, one’s community, religion, pets, and professional life, the performance of one’s sports teams really ought not to have a meaningful impact on one’s life. It’s just a bunch of people moving an object from one place to another using their hands, feet, or sticks against a bunch of other people trying to steal the object for themselves. It’s an absurdity that it garners any attention at all.

And yet, sports, in a lot of ways, are everything. They are a magnet that binds people of a certain affinity together while repelling groups with different value systems. They allow for the (mostly) healthy release of tribal energies, enable the resolution of regional rivalries that historically would have been solved with lots of fires and cannibalism, and create common experiences among people with widely disparate professions, faiths, and interests.

We dedicate meaningful percentages of our lives to our teams at games, watching them on TV, following recruiting, drafts, and trades/transfers. We vent our spleens on message boards, social media, at bars and tailgates, and in angry emails to GMs/athletic directors. They are deeply emotional. We share and treasure the moments of transcendence, when our teams do something we always wanted them to do - for years, every time we get together. And we commiserate with one another after particularly bad things, collectively sharing the trauma, comforted that we don’t have to experience that despair alone.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

The World Wonders

Reeled from the sabre stroke
   Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not
   Not the six hundred.
-Alfred, Lord Tennyson

November 3, 2018 Minnesota lost a shocker to 3-5 Illinois, 55-31. The high score made the game seem more respectable than it was. No Minnesota fan watching in real time could have considered it anything other than an embarrassment. The next day, P.J. Fleck announced the firing of his friend, Defensive Coordinator Robb Smith, and his replacement with Joe Rossi. The change paid immediate dividends the following week against Purdue, a respectable loss against 9-5 Northwestern, and a win in Madison redeemed the season.

November 11, 2023 Minnesota lost a shocker at 2-7 Purdue, 49-30. The high score made the game seem more respectable than it was. No Minnesota fan watching in real time could have considered it anything other than an embarrassment. The next day…well, we don’t know yet, but it probably won’t be much. Joe Rossi has earned far more rope than Robb Smith did thanks to the performance of his defensive unit over the past several years; he’s not going anywhere, nor do I think he should.

Monday, November 6, 2023

This too Shall Pass: A tale of two tattoos

This is a weird one in that I feel it most in my teeth. Not sure that’s ever happened before. Can’t say I’m a fan.

 I’ve gotten pretty good at keeping myself distracted after a particularly inconceivable loss by spending time outside, going to get a nice meal, getting unimaginably high, or trying to feel something again by dying hundreds of times in a Sisyphean quest to complete Dark Souls-styled video games. Sometimes all of the above.

But, residing inside of a piece of meat controlled by a brain that is predisposed to do its own thing on occasion, I do regularly get intrusive thoughts. Saturday was like Christmas for the secret Santa responsible for these nuggets of fun, and it has since gifted me with joyous visions of our WR dropping a TD that would have won us the game, a laser beam going through the hands of our TE where a catch would have won us the game, and Illinois’ best WR running right through the defense we thought was on the ascendancy to win them the game. On repeat. For days. Like finding a wet turd in your pocket every time you reach for some mints.