Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Blizzard: in which Viking losses cause far too much agonizing thought

It's been eight months since experiencing a real Viking loss, and Viking losses tend to send me into long moments of deep reflection. So you'll have to bear with me for a pretentious, narcissistic, melodramatic blog post. Or, you know, you don't have to at all.

"...the old blood which he had not been permitted to choose for himself, which had been bequeathed him willy nilly and which had run for so long (and who knew where, battening on what of outrage and savagery and lust) before it came to him."

Today in a lit class, we read two stories (Alice Walker's "Everyday Use" and William Faulkner's "Barn Burning") which at varying levels explore the relationship of family to the dichotomy of fate and choice. We don't get to choose our families or our biologies--as much as we want to believe in free will, we must recognize a framework that is outside our control. Within that framework we have (as Dr. Melfi puts it on The Sopranos) "a range of choices."

But there's also the "willy nilly" part--so much of who we are and what we do is just a matter of chance. And to provide illustrations, I turned to sports. When we watch a football game, we like to make meaning of it: Team A beat Team B because Team A was better the better team, because Team A outplayed Team B, whatever the reason, there has to be sensible order to why Team A beat Team B. But of course Team A might have won the game because an odd shaped ball bounced around and happened to land in one spot instead of another. Hazard plays a role.

And still further illustration: I am a Viking fan. I define myself as a Viking fan, and rooting for the Vikings is a big part of my life. And yet, I had to confess to my class, if I had been born a few hundred miles east, I would likely be a Packer fan. Whatever else I can claim, I am a Viking fan due to forces of mere hazard, mere chance.

Sure, different teams' fanbases have distinguishing characteristics. But we have to admit that the essential difference between a Viking fan and a Packer fan is geography and the color of the clothes we wear.

Anthony Gonzalez
We learned last year that Colts' WR Anthony Gonzalez had recently read Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamozov. We also know that Anthony Gonzalez will be in the Twin Cities this weekend. Anthony, Dostoevsky is my favorite novelist. Perhaps when you're here, you'd like to get together to chat a little Brothers K? Say, Sunday around noon? And hey, let's get some variety in this little book club: bring over some of your friends. Marvin, Reggie, Peyton, Joseph, Dwight, Bob--they're all welcome. It would be a nice little afternoon.

Oh, I know, you probably want to play in the football game. But just remember something that Ivan says in Brothers K: "everything is permitted." Dropping the ball? Permitted. Jumping offsides? Permitted. Fumbling the ball? Permitted. Running the wrong way? Permitted. Running and sacking your own quarterback? Permitted. What's permitted? Everything.

Learning Patience
Some days I have moments of despair. I'll be walking around, enjoying myself, and suddenly it creeps in: It's never really going to happen, is it? The Vikings are never really going to win a Super Bowl.

Sometimes there's a spark for these moments (like, say, a week one loss when your team's QB plays badly, and you start to wonder how many years before there will be a quarterback worthy to compliment Adrian Peterson). Sometimes it's nothing. But it happens.

And I'm impatient. Every year I believe and hope the Vikes could win the Super Bowl this year, and I don't give that belief and hope up until they're eliminated from playoff contention. When I look back at the 00s, it becomes evident that I've been rooting for a mediocre team that hasn't won 10 games or a division title since 2000--it has never felt that way, because I've always been foolishly optimistic that this is the year.

Patience is a hard-won virtue, but it can be earned. I've lost a lot of weight in the past several months. I've always had the will to get healthier, but never the patience: a change to a healthy lifestyle takes days of waiting before feeling the results. But then for some reason, something clicked: I accepted that a change would require a long-term commitment, and now I'm 50 pounds lighter than I was before. I found the will to wait.

And now I'm trying to learn patience with the Vikings. I've lived most of the last decade with a weird sense of urgency for the Vikings. I want to see the Vikings win a Super Bowl now: I don't want to wait another stupid year. A sense of urgency is a good thing for a football team, but a terrible thing for a fan. To accept that the Vikings may or may not win a Super Bowl before I die, to live with the patient knowledge that such a transcendent joy is in the far distance and at any rate is not within my control, is difficult. It means accepting and enjoying those other parts of our lives that do bring us fulfillment (you know, maybe things like family, work, art, religion), even if the Vikings seem as if they can only bring us disappointment.

When will Flipper Anderson's record be broken?
Flipper Anderson has the single-game record for receiving yards in a game with 336. And when you look at the short list of receivers with 300 yards in a single game, your first thought might be "What?" and your second thought might be "Who are those guys?"

Even in a pass-happy league, this is one of those records that nobody ever seems to challenge: circumstances have to break just right for any receiver to even come close to that number.

The defensive line has to play better (Pioneer Press).

Tarvaris Jackson has to be more consistent (Star Tribune).

Either the Colts or the Vikings will get some form of redemption this weekend (Shutdown Corner).

No comments:

Post a Comment