I watched a little bit of the World Cup this year. Really just a little, little bit, but it seemed to be on everywhere I went and so sometimes I paid attention. One day I found myself watching the American team. As it turns out, it was the last time the American team won, and watching that moment of victory, those young guys with all their hope and excitement and pride bared for the whole world to look at, was not unemotional for me. What a surprise that was! I’ve been getting more and more ambivalent about sports every year; I thought I had grown out of them. But suddenly here I was, teary eyed over a team I hadn’t even known existed the day before. I couldn’t really understand what was going on.
And then it hit me. These were high-level professional American athletes who were not getting paid more in a year than my immediate family and myself will collectively make in our lifetimes. They looked different to me, fresher. Or maybe it was only me; maybe I could be more receptive to their game and their emotions because looking at them didn’t plunge me into the overpaid-players-supported-by-delirious-fans death spiral I started experiencing around the time my older brother went into near permanent debt paying for an 11 year “personal seat license” that allowed him permission to buy, every one of those 11 years, a new season ticket to go watch the Raiders lose. Before that I used to like sports.
I like to think that if there’s a place to re-find a love for Monday night football, it’s here at the hotel. Here we are free to enjoy the game without in any way contributing to the excruciating amount of money the NFL rolls around in while it’s fans still struggle under the weight of recession. We, as individuals, are not even contributing to their ratings. And, on the contrary, we are being given free food and drinks just for showing up. For me, personally, it’s still difficult. But I come and I try. I like hamburgers a lot, and you really can just eat as many as you like. Plus the room is big, big enough, even, to forget about why the free hot dogs are there at all.