Nonretractable Roof of Expectations
My law professor friend told me 1L’s (first-year students barely old enough to buy a drink) at his school are getting job offers for $230-something thousand. This prompted a late-night spiral trying to project my above-average reading comprehension aptitude against Reddit threads about a day in the life of lawyers and how old is too old to go to law school. I concluded that kind of money isn’t paid out for free, and that kind of work is not sustainable if money is the only motivation.
That said, I made a miscalculation after undergrad deciding I was too cool for a desk job and driving off to Victorville, Calif., to write about sports for $13 an hour at a relic institution called a newspaper. It was an example of being misguided by the idea of finding your passion rather than cultivating one, which for some people like me is a moving target and more like a diversified portfolio including non-career interests rather than a singular focus.
Almost two decades later, my interest in sports has eroded into that strange category of following them more closely than actually watching. It makes no sense. Sports are nothing more than entertainment, and the product is the performance. I should be enjoying games rather than checking scores and monitoring coaching changes, just like I would rather watch a movie than read the recap or analysis of whether the actor should sign with a new agent.
Partially this is an indictment of the intrinsic entertainment value of sports. The games with their constant stoppages and meaningless regular seasons can get pretty boring. Strip away the fantasy leagues and betting, talk shows and Barstool, Twitter and memes — none of which I indulge — and the pool is reduced to true fans — of which I am not a part.
I am more of a consumer than fan. I want something in return for paying attention. Two things actually:
To be inspired to the point of running around the living room like a child in great moments
To make bonding and social interaction easier
No. 2 doesn’t require investing eight hours of a weekend to ogle young millionaires playing catch. Quick scans of ESPN headlines coupled with my encyclopedic memory stretching back to '90s NBA allow me to fake conversations with any level of sports fan. I stopped watching games regularly many years ago. The opportunity cost rose too high with the advent of on-demand creative genius via Netflix, YouTube, et al.
What those platforms can’t quite replicate — and why live sports continue to command such robust market and mindshare — is that little-kid-in-the-living-room feeling.
Which brings me to the Dallas Cowboys and my little kids in the living room. They aren’t old enough to care about this latest playoff poopy Packed in the pants, but somehow illustrated it uncannily. The opinionated leader of the defense silent and crestfallen, the leader of the offense in a compromising position after putting his team in a compromised position:
I want my kids to grow up Cowboys fans and dream big knowing if you can just accomplish something, your relevance will never wear off through decades of irrelevant performance.
The greatest skill of the Dallas Cowboys is to make the inevitable feel like a surprise every time, to conjure up an endless supply of irrational hope. They peddle delusion and would be fantastic company on the Titanic next to that valiant band.
Look at this embarrassing text in green I sent to an Eagles fan last week. You almost feel bad for me.
Big D made me look like a Big Douche again. Even at halftime, 27-7, I was strutting around Tom Thumb looking for lasagna ingredients in my inherited oversized Sean Lee jersey, chirping at Bills and Steelers hecklers to stay tuned and enjoy the comeback.
I turned off the TV after the third quarter. Better than any other team could ever do, the Cowboys taught me to never watch a full game unless it’s a social commitment. If I ante up almost four hours of my scarce leisure time and they lose, depression will settle in along with the Sunday Scaries.
Conversely the difference in joy if they win and I watch one hour instead of four is not much. It’s well worth hedging that risk of an emotional hangover. Even before the final outcome yesterday was obvious, I skipped a nice chunk of the first half based on how uninspiring the Cowboys looked. I told my wife I would check the score periodically and they would have to earn my time.
She’s gotten used to my manic-depressive monologues this time of year and can recite the formulaic setup and letdown of Cowboys postseasons despite being able to name exactly one player in the NFL. (Travis Kelce. I challenged her to name his brother, and she cutely said Mr. Kelce.)
I know this particular monologue reads like sour grapes. I’m the sore loser child who wasn’t watching anyway because sports are stupid. The truth is I am indeed bitterly disappointed without being invested. I talk so much trash on behalf of the Cowboys for fun, and it would be so fun if they would back me up just one time.
This deadbeat team with no heartbeat takes the fun out of it. Every year I feel stood up like Will Smith in The Episode or Johnny Depp’s daughter in “Blow”, except it’s by a distant relative I don’t really care about but who should do better.
Anyone who grew up in the '90s public school system here knows the hole in the old Texas Stadium was so God could watch his favorite team. I remember this was taught in the intelligent design portion of the curriculum in fifth grade.
We’re coming up on 30 years since the Super Bowl 30 win, and it’s about time to teach our children more progressive material. The hole in the retractable roof of AT&T Stadium is for God to watch his favorite team to forsake.
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