On the Trappings of Celebrity and Why Football and I Agreed to See Other People

I like football.  I don’t follow football, because, to be honest, it’s entirely too much goddamned work to keep up with any manner of professional sport.  It’s essentially impossible for me to keep up with the cavalcade of names, their affiliations and various relevant statistics and trivia required of a true sports fan.  For one, I’m not good with names to begin with.  In any given social situation, I’m fortunate to remember the names of more than one out of every five new people that I meet (I have managed over the years to distill the circumstances necessary for my actually remembering someone’s name down to a handful of basic criteria, but that’s a discourse unto itself), much less an entire goddamned team roster.  But more importantly (returning to my original assessment), I like football.  I don’t love football or espouse any particular passion for it, and thus, like so many other things in life, it all comes down to the simple fact that I don’t give enough of a shit about it to invest the time and energy required to be a real “fan”.

Having grown up in a sub-culture which considers the sport sacrosanct, I shouldn’t even like it, if for no other reason than having always been a contrarian bastard, but mostly due to the irreparable emotional and physical scars left by a sadistic institution known as High School Football (which I could expand on in volumes).  However, despite (or perhaps because of) all this, I eventually found that a certain fundamental appreciation of the sport had been instilled in (or perhaps, more likely, physical beaten into) me.   I suppose, like a person raised as a fundamentalist, if you don’t embrace the precepts and throw in with the flock, you’ll eventually become an atheist or take the middle road and decide that you and God can be “just friends.”  And so it is with myself and football; though I declined joining the church, I decided that I wouldn’t hold a grudge and we’ve maintained a “cool” relationship since.

What this means, in practice, is that I know the game.  I know the rules; I know the positions; I know the strategy.  If I’m watching a football game, I can comment on the plays, curse at the refs, and have an otherwise informed football discussion with any other person, fan or otherwise, so long as the conversation remains within the strictly defined parameters of “the shit that has happened in this game.”  Once we leave those confines (e.g., “Who won X game last week?”, “Did you see X do this or that?”), unless I happened by pure chance to see whatever they’re going on about in the recent headlines and can reasonably bullshit my way through the conversation, I’ll be forced to resort to muttering a semi-coherent, deliberately vague monosyllabic response or excuse myself to get another drink or take a piss.

But I digress.  Despite the considerable baggage I bring to the sport, I’m quite happy to go to or watch a game at a friend’s behest.  And so I graciously accepted a friend’s offer to attend a professional football game.  I do enjoy attending live sporting events, almost without exception (except for soccer, live or otherwise…and the Olympics.  As a matter of fact, I rather hate the fucking Olympics, but that’s a story for another time).  And we had suite tickets.  I’ve never been in a (professional sports stadium) suite, and to be honest, I always thought the whole concept was somewhat antithetical to the idea of going to a live game.  Why would I go to a live game to sit in a room and watch it on television?  I can do that shit at home.  But setting aside philosophical reservations, I was rather excited to experience how the patricians enjoyed the games.

Although I was somewhat disappointed by the somewhat modest size of the suite, seeing as how I have no reasonable basis for comparison, that particular criticism is probably not quite fair.  My only serious criticism was that, being a suite, it turns the affair into a quasi-cocktail party, meaning there’s a certain amount of mingling or social interaction involved above and beyond what you would ordinarily expect at a game, where you’re really not expected to interact with anyone save the people to your immediate right or left, which also means that there’s a much greater probability of running across someone who’ll insist on carrying on a football conversation which runs afoul of my aforementioned comfort zone.  But by the same token, not being confined to a specific seat makes it much simpler for me to slip away once we inevitably reach that point in the conversation.

And so, I navigated the evening with relative ease, liberally indulging in my crapulent surroundings, and looking quite down my nose on all of the poor bastards stuck in the plebeian sections.  In keeping with our rarified trappings, at some point during the evening, someone made note of an apparent celebrity named Nick Lachey in the suite next to us.  Having no idea who the fuck that was, after listening to a few people provide me some vague explanations as to why he was well-known, I eventually concluded that he was among the increasing rolls of people who have no apparent talent, but are celebrities by virtue of the fact that they exist.  In my opinion, he looked like any of the other wholly unremarkable assholes I run across on any given day, but to be fair, I’m sure that when he saw me, in that fleeting moment in which he processed it, he probably thought the same thing.  And so I took another pull from my drink to wash down the cocktail of bitter envy and resentment I had just swallowed, and moved on.

In all fairness (going back to my philosophical objections), there were actual stadium seats provided, conveniently located just in front of the suite.  But given that they were wholly and remarkably similar to every other stadium seat I had ever been in, and since it was unlikely I would ever be in a suite again (and because of my casual acquaintanceship with football, I figured that football would be cool with it), I decided to embrace the irony and spent the better part of the evening watching the game on the big-screen TV, comfortably planted in the suite’s well-appointed sofa and eating fancy cheeses whose names fell into the same oblivion as everyone I had met in the suite that evening, and resolved that I would never be able to enjoy the game from the “cheap seats” quite the same.

As a final aside, an odd event, which my attention immediately latched itself to, concerned an announcement from the officiator early in the game which proclaimed that anything bought from the concession stand would ideally be best enjoyed with the liberal application of the “Official Ketchup of the NY Giants,” a bottle of which had been conveniently provided in our suite.  At the time, it struck me as incredibly odd, not that an NFL team would stoop to shilling for a ketchup company, but that the competition within the condiment industry was fierce enough that they felt it a worthwhile investment to pay money to the NY Giants organization to be so ostentatiously recognized as their official ketchup (I don’t recall that there was an official mustard or relish).  Sadly, it didn’t appear to have the intended repercussions, as I honestly can’t recall which ketchup brand it was (or perhaps catsup?).  But then again, I can’t, in all honesty, recall who won the game, either.

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.
You must be logged in to post a comment.