Thursday, February 10, 2011

Some Final Thoughts on the Super Bowl

"Final?" you might well ask; "but you didn't have any initial thoughts on the Super Bowl . . ." Au contraire, my friend. 

I've had quite a few thoughts on the Super Bowl, but none in a spirit festive enough to share. But today, thinking about a quip from one of my students (a Pittsburgher and Steelers fan herself, she rooted for Green Bay) - which was an intensified version of a sentiment Brad shared post-loss on game night - I decided that since festivity is not in order, my un-festive thoughts are appropriate. 

This lack of festivity is not due to the obvious - the fact that the Steelers lost (or that they looked simply awful in Texas). Instead, it's due to my lack of, well, giving a crap that the Steelers lost (and that they looked awful in Texas). My student, for her part, is glad the Steelers lost. She feels - and I'm inclined to agree - that some kind of cosmic injustice would have been perpetrated had Roethlisberger gone from behaving badly, getting caught and "punished" for behaving badly, onto winning the Super Bowl the same season and being a major hero. (She wasn't quite as succinct, nor did she use the words "cosmic justice," but as a teacher of English, I make it my duty to find the gems hidden amidst the clunkiness.) Now Brad didn't go so far as to say that he's glad; but for the first time in the decade I've known him, a serious Steelers loss didn't hurt him the way getting a football to the gut hurts (and, believe me, I know - it fricking hurts). 

But I don't want to rehash how Ben is a jerk and deserved to lose, etc. etc. - people are probably doing that all over my great city. Instead I want to talk about how his ridiculousness killed the story of football for me. We want our "heroes" to have a flaw, sure, but not the flaw of being a sexual assaulter. By being someone I would rather forget and quite frankly hate to look at, Ben made me ambivalent about the biggest game in my favorite sport. He's not Hamlet or Oedipus (I'm overlooking the problematics of the whole "murder" thing); he's just a dirtball we pay a lot of money to watch. (Note that this is not coming from some hatred of professional atheletes making a lot of money. I'm a firm believer in if-you-don't-want-them-to-get-paid-obscene-amounts-of-money-then-stop-doing-the-things-that-enable-them-to-make-obscene-amounts-of-money. And I, for one, am not going to stop watching the NFL.) 

Perhaps I've got Clifford Geertz and Claude Levi-Strauss on my mind. If cockfighting is a central component of Balinese culture, then the NFL is a central component of ours. And, being a good structuralist (which I am NOT in reality), I expect my football to have the proper elements; and one of those - a HUGE one of those - is a compelling quarterback/team leader/inspirational figure. Someone to get behind. When that's missing, the story falls apart. None of the other elements - even an "aging star with killer toughness and down-to-earth charm" (read:  Hines Ward) and a "young coach with a feel-good family story" (read:  Mike Tomlin) can relate to each other in a way that makes sense, that coheres, that creates the comprehensible structure that is an NFL team worth cheering for. 

At least not for me. 

Admittedly, my grasp of structuralism sucks. That's me and lit. theory for you. But my contention remains firm:  he killed the Super Bowl by killing the story that structures it. And of course I would think of things in terms of stories. Fiction MFA - duh . . . . 

(It should be mentioned here that I have loathed him for years - long before the scandals, long before the official hate party commenced. He's a crybaby and a drama queen, though in a unique, non-primadonna way. I just want that on the record.) 

As for the post title, these are my final thoughts b/c 1.  I'm sick of talking/hearing about it even though, quite interestingly, I haven't talked/heard much about it at all, and 2.  it's really, truly not worth any further discussion. See the abovementioned reasons.


  1. "sexual assaulter"

    I'm the most anti-rape person on the planet. I have four daughters and if someone touched one of them against their will I would move Heaven and Earth to destroy that person. However, Ben has been accused by two women but he has never been found guilty. As a matter of fact, the police have yet to find enough evidence to even bring charges against him.

    With that being said, I could overlook one accusation because there is always that loner looking to make a name for themselves by attacking someone famous but twice makes you wonder.

    Is he an easy target? Did he do it? I don't know. I'm trying to give him the benefit of the doubt but let's just say the bloom is off the rose.

    P.S. You're an English teacher? Crap! Now I'm going to have to watch my spelling and sentence structure. I'm so screwed.

  2. I don't disagree with "innocent until proven guilty" for a second - and, you're right: Ben has not only not been proven guilty, but he has also not even been charged.

    However - and this is a big however for me - just because he hasn't been pursued legally doesn't mean he didn't do anything for which is ought to be so pursued. I am a law school drop out, it's true, so I'm the last one to speak on matters of law. But if there's five things I learned in those three months (and please let there be at least five for all of the mental torture I went through) one of those is that evidence is tough to get. Not being able to get the necessary evidence to bring a charge and make a case doesn't mean there's nothing to charge.

    Beyond all this, I disbelieved the first woman b/c of all the b.s. that came out about her e-mails, etc. afterwards. But following the second accusation, a colleague of mine told me how a former coworker had been a student at Miami during Big Ben's days as big man on campus, and apparently, the reputation re: women that our QB has earned on a national scale is but an extension of the reputation his behavior had cultivated in Ohio.

    In short, I've got no sympathy for him, no confidence in his "innocence." Does that mean I think the women were telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth? I barely think such a thing exists. Even so, I think there's a lot less to believe in in his story.

    Let's not forget that O.J. is "innocent." Our dear legal system - so called without any irony or sarcasm whatsoever - pronounced it so and thus it is so. But we (or at least I) know better.

  3. I guess it turns out that my post title was a lie, given my above comment. Darnit.

  4. Sweet! I get to correct an English teacher. You're not "innocent until proven guilty" in this country. You're "presumed" innocent. Big difference. If I pull out a gun and shoot someone then I'm guilty of murder. It doesn't matter if a juror finds me innocent. I'm still guilty.

    Let's get back to Ben. Is he a "sexual assaulter" or is he just a dick? Just from what he admitted to with these women I would say he's an a-hole but I'm not going to start calling him Rapist-berger like I've heard. However, I'm also not going to let him around my daughters.

    Ok, I'll let you have the final word on this if you want it and then we can let it go. Besides, I'm trying to direct my disappointment to those damn cheeseheads!

  5. You can have the final word on Ben. So long as I can quibble (in this case, about the law). I do so love debating.

    You’re talking about factual guilt: if she did the deed, she is guilty of the crime.

    But b/c the presumption of innocence (your correction of my terminology is noted!) is a concept of our legal system, I’m talking about legal guilt. If it can’t be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that she did the deed, then she isn’t guilt of the crime, despite the fact that she “actually” did the deed. So, you, shooting, and gun wouldn’t necessarily be legally guilt.