Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sports are sports

***I wrote this the day before Penn State lost to Ohio State. I was going to post it on my work blog, but didn't feel like reading it over. I figured since I'm so conceited that I think everything I write should somehow see the light of day (i.e. Internet), I'd post it on here.

Do I want Penn State to win tomorrow? Absolutely. I want them to win every time they play, and especially when they’re playing a Big 10 rival like Ohio State who has a quarterback with something akin to a God Complex.

I like football, and I like Penn State more than I like any other team. Whether I deserved to or not, I graduated from there and have a diploma (more on that later). It’d be an awesome story for walk on quarterback Matt McGloin to lead the team to victory over semi-Heisman candidate Terrelle Pryor. It’d be lots of fun to watch, and probably even more fun to call my friends who graduated from Ohio State and let them have it, like I was somehow responsible for the victory and didn’t just sit there yelling at a television.

Again, just so we’re clear: I want Penn State to win tomorrow, and I really hope they do.

Do I think they will, though? No. Not really.

The reason it’d be such a great story is because a Penn State victory is so unlikely. They’re unranked and starting a guy who was their third string quarterback a month ago, while Ohio State is ranked No. 8 in the AP poll and is starting Pryor, who some seem to think is the bee’s knees.

Does my prediction show some kind of flaw in my support for Penn State? I don’t think so. I make my prediction based on realism. If I was betting $100 on the game, I’d bet on Ohio State, because that’s the logical pick and I could use an extra c-note.

There is a difference between what I want and what I think is going to happen. I want to marry Blake Lively, but I really don’t think that’s going to happen. (I hope I am wrong.) I’m a realist, at least when it comes to sports, and I don’t think there’s too much wrong with that.

I know at least one person who does, though.


I woke up this morning to a text message from a friend of mine. It said (completely unprompted) “I despise Ohio people.” (Ohioans?) It then went on to say something unsavory about how they’re all born a certain way. It rhymes with Max Soles, a homicide detective with an eye patch and pistachio addiction who I just made up. She’s currently in Ohio, and is going to the game tomorrow. She graduated from Penn State, too, and as you’ll see in a moment, she’s pretty passionate about it.

She followed this statement with an “LOL,” so I didn’t know if she was being serious. I responded with the text, “Haha don’t stereotype” because I don’t like stereotypes, am a very self-righteous person and also for some reason love initiating conflict when it’s really not necessary at all.

She then told me she has every right to stereotype Ohioans and say they’re, uh, not very nice people, because she hasn’t been proven wrong once, and she’s lived in a surrounding state/city her entire life. She went on to say that she doesn’t even consider it a state. “It’s the united 49 states and one mistake, ” she said. (Google reaffirmed for me that it is indeed a state, and that i has a population of about 11.5 million. There has to be at least one good person out of all them, right?)

I don’t want to name any examples, but this kind of thinking hasn’t really done much good. Ever.

I don’t know why this made me mad, really, because obviously some girl spouting off complete absurdities and judgements of people based on the state in which they were born isn’t something really even worth acknowledging, but I had to egg her on. It irked me that she was complaining about the entirety of a state when she had gone there of her own free will. On a trip for pleasure, too.

“So you went to a state you hate to see one of their college football teams beat the [excrement] out of the college you went to?” I typed and sent.

“No,” she replied. Then she said this, which I promise you I am not making up. I could not make this up if I tried. “I’m here to see them cry as we regain honor. A true fan believes in their team, doesn’t leave them in dust, supports them in their weakest hour to victory.”

Who is this girl? General Patton? William Wallace?

Then she told me I don’t deserve to be a Penn State alum. Because I predicted the football team would lose. She told me I “should be pummeled,” too.

I told her that was some of the dumbest stuff I’d heard in a while. “Honor? It’s a sport,” I said. “Weakest hour to victory? They aren’t soldiers.”

I think that’s what had made me upset, kind of like when I got upset when former Miami tight end Kellen Winslow told reporters that he was a soldier. I absolutely hate it when people compare sports to war, for reasons any sensible person should be able to discern.

Sports are sports. She told me that it unites thousands upon thousands of people at Penn State (which it does), and because of this it’s something more than a sport.

So, yeah, I guess it is. It’s a bunch of people getting together to watch a sport and hope for a favorable outcome. I had always just assumed the fan part fell into the customary realm of sports. Without fans and spectators, sports like football would just be a fun workout, really.

Sports are great, and watching them is too. It gives you something to get excited about, and helps you escape other worries for a little while. They can be serious (I take them seriously) but they aren’t that important. I bet any player on the team would acknowledge that there are more important things in the world than sports.

I was told that I didn’t deserve to go to the school that groomed me for my first job, taught me some stuff and provided some of the greatest times I’ve ever had. Because of something football-related, from a girl who I guarantee could not name three starting offensive linemen on this year’s team.

People like this are completely irrational, and their ignorance doesn’t give a good name to the people they’re cheering for.

After we were done talking, I polled a few of my friends who also graduated from Penn State. Every single one of them (I spoke to about 20 people) predicted a loss, except for my friend Dave, who is apparently very optimistic. He said Penn State would win by a score of one million to zero.

“Whoever that [person] is needs a reality check,” one of my friends said, and I agree. She needs at least a couple.

(Here’s one. I looked up some people from Ohio and have found that six former presidents, including my man Ulysses S. Grant, who was instrumental in winning the Civil War. Ohio has also produced Steven Spielberg and R.L. Stine. I realize it sounds like I love Ohio or something, and that’s not the case. I’m just trying to prove a point.)

Even my friend Lenny, who is probably the biggest fan I know of Penn State football and the university in general said he thought it’d be a fun game to watch, but that he wasn’t too optimistic about the ultimate outcome.

“Realistically, I don’t think they’re going to win,” he said.

At some point after our conversation turned to football, Coach Paterno came up. This happens all the time, because he’s obviously the first person you think of (and one of the few people on the team who she can put a name to) when you think of Penn State football. She called him a legend, which he is.

I wonder which person he’d be more ashamed of being a Penn State alum: the guy who made a prediction that his team would lose, or the girl who seems to believe millions of people are inferior because of the state they live in.

Think before you speak is all I’m trying to say. And if you have any strange biases toward other states, just keep them to yourself, or you will sound like a fucking idiot.

UPDATE: Penn State got fucking spanked. I have yet to be beaten or stripped of my degree.