In an article about absurd precision in football measurements, this quote grabbed my attention:
like all rituals that make no sense, we take this one extra seriously
Ah, on the afternoon before the Byron Tigers versus Stillman Valley Cardinals game, the cup-spelling fence was defunct. Perhaps this is the end of the cup-spellers’ season? If the fence is being replaced, will it be done in time for playoffs?
Well, for just a couple days this week, the fence said “Beat the Cards,” according to my memory, because I had not yet stopped to photograph it. “Beat” was, while suggestive of savagery, not quite the imaginative “Strip” or “Slay” of recent weeks. Still, when one’s opponent’s mascot is a bird, “Pluck the Cardinals” would surely seem appropriate.
Speaking of football savagery, I had long thought that if there were an on-field death during a football game, that people in general, but particularly high schools, might reconsider participating in football. So I was surprised to read in this report recently that there have been 39 deaths of high school players caused directly by football from 2000 to 2011, and that between 1931 and 2012, “there is only one other year [besides 2012] where there were no direct fatalities in high school and college football.” This cover story in Time describes the details of one young player’s on-field death after he was hit in the head, a hit that one player said was not even a “crazy-hard hit.” But apparently football isn’t even as deadly as it used to be.
So, this week, we’re apparently defusing the Rockets of Rock Falls. Do rockets even HAVE fuses? I mean, other than toy rockets. After the power-verbs “strip” and “slay” last week, “defuse” sounds pretty technical and uninspiring. Wouldn’t “Apollo 1 the Rockets” be more intimidating?
If “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall,” as the Good Book says, maybe we shouldn’t be demonstrating all this school pride. Let’s get out there and show some school humility!
This week, the Byron footballers are encouraged to re-enact “The Iliad,” minus most of killings (one hopes) but with all of the divine meddling (one dreams). I know Mendota High School students aren’t the only mascotted Trojans, but I’m struck by the fact that any teams willingly identify with the losers of a conflict. Perhaps, for old time’s sake, Mendota’s quarterback could be dragged around the stadium a few times in ritual commemoration.
This is also a good opportunity to link to a cool site of Greek comics, particularly this entry charting deaths in “The Iliad.”
UPDATE: The Tigers did not defeat the Trojans, and thus Andromache did not become a slave (The Iliad, Book 6) and Priam’s genitals were not eaten by dogs (Book 22) — figuratively speaking, of course.
I like to think of football games held in big stadiums as performance art where the most interesting theatre is going on everywhere except the field — like a reverse theatre-in-the-round.