Saturday, December 01, 2007

Night Game Nightmares

Wasn’t that Dallas game fun? The fun part being when it was over and you could forget it ever happened. Watching a T.O. touchdown celebration never gets old, does it? Just like you look forward to shoveling snow.

At my house, we don’t really enjoy watching night games in any case, particularly those played during the work week. We like to unwind in the evening, have a glass or two of wine and read a book or watch a movie. In most films, the conflict builds to a climactic good vs. evil battle between an evenly matched protagonist and antagonist. And the clever filmmakers generally make sure that “good” wins. After we see the good guys prevail, we get a satisfied feeling that all is well with the world and can sleep peacefully.

Football affords us no such peace. For one thing, good doesn’t always triumph over evil. In fact over the course of NFL history, it’s only triumphed about 56% of the time. The other problem is we, the fans, are not just observers of how fictional characters deal with conflict—we’re in the middle of the action. Fans can feel the changes of momentum, the ebb and flow, as though they were right there on the field. Otherwise we wouldn’t be compelled to yell obscenities at the refs’ bad calls, or lose our composure when we see the Packers’ secondary perform with all the focus and concentration of 2nd graders on the last school day before summer vacation.

If the Packers win the night game, then you’re so keyed up you can’t get to sleep until 1 AM or so, playing the touchdowns over and over in your mind or watching the highlights on TV over and over on the 24 hour sports channels. And then you wake up exhausted. If the Pack loses, you lie awake in bed replaying all the mistakes that led to the Packers’ demise that night. And when morning comes, you’re cranky.

A friend of mine has resorted to recording night games and then watching them the next afternoon. I thought this showed remarkable will power on his part until he admitted he peeks at the score on the Internet.

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