On the brink of the thirtieth anniversary of my birth, I realize now that the whole of my life has unfolded among the shadows of euphemisms and delusion. In a nation built on the paradoxical notions of our competitive nature and collective strength, this opera of ideals is expressed in perhaps its starkest form via the mega-bux-sports-religio-industrial-complex. I offer myself as the embodiment of the tension between these ideals: the desire to win, and loyalty to the team. I am a homer, and it was my wife's idea that I attend these meetings.
The Sports Gods are fickle. For all their commandments of etiquette, corruption is rampant among the Keepers of the Game. The one known as Goodell and the faceless hegemony called simply “BCS” grind their tyrannical boot heels against our necks while the dark agents of ESPN distract us with shiny pictures, tits, trucks, and the golem of Skip Bayless. Where once there was Hank Stram – high priest of innovation, exuder of class, abuser of words and defenses – now there is Bill Belichick – that humorless cheater with the gameday wardrobe of a 19 year-old burnout whose first carnal encounter likely came on the lips and fingertips of his nearest approximation of a mother and under the watch of goats, barn owls and termites. Here is your prophet! Here is the king you demanded! Now watch him fade, as all men fade.
The Sports Gods are laughing. Every time you touch yourself, Lane Kiffin signs another 5-star recruit.
The Sports Gods are sadists. I was born under the calamitous dual flags of Kansas City and Iowa State. Trophies in wrestling, trophies in volleyball, trophies in track, trophies in soccer -- even, the elders say, a trophy once in baseball and football each – and yet I starve. Blown kicks, blown calls, blown knees, blown draft picks – all these things remind me of the words of our Holy and Ancient Prophets:
"Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul? I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil." - Job, chapter 3
"If you ain't first, yer last." - Joan of Arc (final words)
As if to compound this pain, we are forced to suffer the mockery of the lower races of the west: the horse-bred mountain people, the circus-dwelling inmates of the penal colony at the bay of Oaks, and that mythical tribe, unobserved by any record of scientific discipline, Chargers Fans, whose existence we can infer only from the regular bleating of their self-proclaimed “Field General”.
All these rival clans have gained or been closer to the crown of champion than ours in my lifetime, even those farcical felons by the bay, and so they gloat over our humble nation. And yet they too are miserable, and mired in doubt, losses, and tragedy. Do these trophies so easily tarnish? Does glory so quickly fade? What then is the purpose of all this fanatic bombast?
Nearing this landmark in my continued advancing of age (and what is a “Birthday” but a celebration of one's failure to die, a toast to my extended wait for the inevitable?), I realize I have been born a captive, and, to my horror, conditioned to love my captors. Homerism, thou art Stockholm Syndrome.
Homerism is suffering, homerism is hope unrequited and hope beget from void, hope for an instant of clarity amid decades of chaos. Some among our ranks call it Kool Aid, some call it delusional, and they deride us for it, as if they had transcended its grip, and yet here they are, right next to us, cursed by the same losses, the same blown chances, and the same Greg Robinson (a pox on your house!).
The Kool Aid elixir of homerism is, finally, hope without hope, founded on nothing but a collective delusion that we might win, and that those fleeting moments might make a difference in our lives, might make up for the years and years of suffering, and shitty bosses, and traffic jams, and compound interest, might atone for the shameful tears, the holes punched through drywall, the uncomfortable neighbors, the frightened children, the startled dogs, and the ruined dreams.
So, I guess, what I'm trying to say is, over/under on 8 wins? I say over. (I need tickets)