Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Non-Sporty Spice

My favorite quote from a Spice Girl who is not Victoria Beckham (who is, actually, hilarious) is from Melanie Chisholm aka Sporty Spice who said that being dubbed Sporty Spice was a burden and that sometimes she wished she was Fat, Lazy Spice instead. Poor Sporty, it is a lot of pressure to live up to that name. At least she is British, and, let's face it, when we think of England our first thought is not, "Athletes!" The United States is a sporty country and for the non-sporty among us, it can be difficult. In fact, the last time I wrote anything of any length about sports was in law school when I wrote a comment for the Bankruptcy Developments Journal entitled, "It's All Fun and Games Until Someone Declares Bankruptcy: A Debtor's Right to Season Ticket Holder Status." It focused on section 365 of the zzzzzzzzzz. Yes, I know. If you missed that issue of the BDJ, I will send you a copy because I have about 50 sitting in my attic.

While I exercise so that I won't get diabetes, I am not much of an athlete and I generally won't go out of my way to watch sports not involving my children. This is probably because I did not grow up in a normal sporty family. The mainstream American sports are just too mundane for my father. He probably knows all the rules to cricket, can fence like a musketeer, and knows his way around the buzkashi field (click - hysterical list of obscure sports), but I don't think he's ever played a pick-up game of basketball. Okay, he has been known to don a blue and red scarf and take in the Princeton-Penn football game with one of his Ivy League friends, but more for the plummy experience, not to actually watch the game. 

I love the picture on that program because: a. The Penn Quaker looks like Rudolph Valentino channelling the little Dutch boy, but inexplicably wearing a fedora and a knickers sailor suit, and b. This Quaker's the angriest looking pacifist I've ever seen.

My lack of sports knowledge, specifically football, mattered not a bit at Rutgers, which, when I attended was known as the rare state school with a pathetically laughable football program. When I was at Rutgers the school was transitioning from playing schools like Colgate and Williams, known more for their squash teams and rigorous academic curriculum than for their football program. By my senior year Rutgers had joined the Big East where it would serve as whipping boy for the next decade.  

So, while I didn't learn much about football in college, I did learn about tailgating. While Rutgers was getting demolished on the football field, my friends and I would still be in the stadium parking lot  looking for the Alpha Sig tailgate because someone told us that they had chicken wings. If Rutgers students were serious about anything, it was a party. My senior year, I had a friend who investigated using Depends undergarments so that he wouldn't have to stop drinking to use the Port-a-Potty during Homecoming. When anyone thinks that I went to a fancy private school, I tell them that story and it shuts them right up. Go Rutgers!

WTF is that? I had the same question. This description cleared it up: 
Seeing the Scarlet Knights lay a beatdown on the field against one of their rivals is one of the most beautiful sights in the world. Relive all those glorious victories over your opponents when you proudly show off your pride in your yard with this gnome rivalry stone. This hand-painted resin stone features a terribly frightened small gnome dressed in rivaling colors running away from a large and ferocious gnome decked out in a Rutgers football uniform. A school wordmark and “Let's Go Knights” lettering tops off this meticulously detailed piece, so it’s certain to add a touch of team pride to your home’s lawn or garden!
I just don't know where to begin with this meticulously detailed piece. "Lay a beatdown?" (Beatdown is not even a word according to spell check). The "terribly frightened small gnome dressed in rivaling colors?" Apparently the small gnome goes to either Wichita State or Linderwood University, both of which have black and gold as school colors and neither of which has ever played Rutgers. Also, why does the terribly frightened gnome have a chupacabra on his jersey? So many questions.

I got to thinking about my non-sporty upbringing because I stumbled on some startling statistics about the most watched television shows of the last week of 2012. The top four prime time network shows were football games or football-related. Not only that, but six of the top ten shows on cable that week were football bowl games. You check it out on the Nielsen ratings site. And, yes Nielsen now also ranks internet traffic and the ninth most popular online video site is ESPN. 

We Americans love us some sports and we love us some football most of all. I can't even begin to answer the question of why we love football. I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that we invented it, so it's uniquely American. It's also just violent enough to be exciting, but not so violent that we feel icky enjoying it. We also like loud, we like team, and we like tough. That's why when John Kerry's picture was snapped doing this:

he was screwed. Poor John Kerry, I bet his dad played cricket. 


  1. Visit the Urban Dictionary for some good definitions of 'beatdown.' I bet some football players help write them.

    I grew up in a football watching family and I live with one now. I have absolutely no interest in watching either live or in person.

    1. I see that the problem with "beatdown" is that it is properly "beat down." OMG, I just totally laughed at the #7 definition in the Urban Dictionary which is "The beating of someone with your dick."