As fans, we do a lot for sports. We give our favorite teams time, money, space in our brains, and space in our hearts. We study, argue endlessly, and worry about things completely out of our control. However, sports do a lot for us too. They give us something to think about that isn’t the crushing despair of our current societal issues to start. They’re a focal point – a place for acting with passion in the heat of the moment and feeling like part of a tribe without the repercussions of societal exclusionism. That’s why, when the NBA and NHL playoffs have ended, and it is the depths of the most pointless part of the baseball season outside of April, I find myself grasping for that connection. It’s found through all the little rituals that go along with sports fandom in the digital age, like checking social media for updates on summer workouts and getting in on the endless speculation. Even with the familiar routine, something feels off this year.
Day one of the off-season started with Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III doing his best stoned Foghorn Leghorn impersonation and “testifying” in front of congress that he has memory issues and gets nervous around them fast-talking women.
That’s day one.
Day two did not improve. The country woke up to the news that House Majority Whip Steve Scalise had been shot while practicing for the Congressional Baseball Game of all things. The entire situation is very raw and while the video exists, I won’t link it here.
So how to deal with all this shit? How should I freaking know! I’ve been spending too much of my brainpower either trying to be distracted by work or sports to be too worried about politics, or to come up with root cause on how everybody else handles their business. (This tactic has failed spectacularly, btw.)
Our government is more of a dumpster fire than the Browns front office, our president is basically Redskins owner Dan Snyder if he decided to try and ruin humanity instead of only ruining football, and here we all sit, shitposting on the internet and paying taxes for stadium upgrades that will never come. Personally, snark and whiskey are what gets me through, but to each their own.
Maybe football returning will be what saves the republic. Baseball is fun and all, but its still long and slow and full of unwritten rules. Major League Baseball is the US Senate of professional sports. Ran into the ground by old men over and over, only to be rescued at the last second by young men of color giving away their best years to earn money that always ends up in the pockets of those same old assholes that fucked up in the first place, somehow. ಠ_ಠ
Football, for all its flaws, seems to bring people together on a more consistent basis than either politics or baseball ever could. Never know – maybe all that togetherness will be what brings this country back to democracy instead of autocracy. It won’t be Trump, with his soft-serve hair and non-existent conscience, but maybe it can be Coach O from LSU with his, frankly, beautifully unintelligible Cajun accent and no bullshit attitude. (Plus, corn dogs! On the scale of orange things, corn dogs are at the top at number one, and Trump is at the end near negative infinity.)
Who knows if any of that will happen. It’s more likely that football is just going to add a layer of tension on top of whatever relief having that distraction brings. What I do know is that I’ve never looked forward to a football season more. This is going to be the longest off-season in the history of mankind. Yes, you can probably look back through my internet history and find where I have bitched about how dark and miserable the summer is without football, but none of those times coincided with entire branches of government refusing to do their jobs or journalists being told they would have to make an appointment with a committee before doing interviews with public servants in a public space. (Granted, senate leadership ended up retracting that after a few hours, but pretty sure that’s only because lawyers from the ACLU started circling like sharks and Journalism Twitter exploded into flames.) Politics is one of my favorite things in the world, but that is mostly out of a sense of duty. I’m a football fan because it’s fun. I miss fun. Especially since politics really isn’t much fun at all anymore.
The only thing to do is wait for the hordes to start coming over the wall like so many dropped Russian Nesting Dolls, or for kickoff, whichever comes first. Loitering in a hammock with a beer in one hand and my phone in the other, enjoying the sun sounds like a good start.