I watched game 7 of the NBA Finals tonight, mostly because I really want it to be football time already. Besides, Paul talked me into thinking LeBron James is the best, so when he fell on his knees and SOBBED OPENLY FOR HIS HOMETOWN after the Cavs broke the 52 year title draught in Cleveland, well, there's no talking me out of it now. No long-suffering fan can see that and not cry along with him.
Earlier this year I wrote about football--between when the Broncos won the AFC Championship game against the godforsaken Patriots and the Superbowl against the Panthers.
Since I wrote that, you know, the Broncos actually won the Superbowl. Watching the Cavs fans and hearing the dead quiet stadium (what do you even call it in basketball) reminded me of the numb strange feeling I had when the game was over. I believed all along that we would win, and then we did win, and the fact of our winning made me believe that it wasn't possible for us to have won.
Anyway, this is what I wrote back then:
I feel full with the gifts of others.
I feel so grateful for David Bowie and the X-Files and Todd Haynes and football. They give me something to care about, they elevate my heart rate, they are givers of great gifts. And I realized that soon it will be time to to share, not consume.
But watching football makes me feel alive, whatever the fuck that means. It makes my heart beat fast, it makes me WANT something really bad. It makes me want something that I can't control, and it's weird because maybe I should want the things I want that way. I mean, I want to get out of debt but it's not a heart-pounding rush, it's a deadening desire. It makes me feel scared and alone.
A few years ago I wrote about the experience, as a Broncos fan, of losing Superbowl 48.
Now I find myself faced with the prospect of a game wherein the Broncos are the underdog defensive threat against a juggernaut Carolina team. I've been very public with my football fandom this season--more so than any other season. I took an excited selfie, then I took another one, and then suddenly it was a tradition and I had to make a lot of them. And most of my friends don't care about football. Maybe it's even fair to say that most of my friends dislike football, so mostly it was a public but irrelevant tradition.
I don't feel like I've sorted out any more about why I love this stupid sport than the last time I wrote about it. Then I was in a very sad, suffering mode. Now I'm in a very sad, suffering mode. I get stomach aches during games. I couldn't sleep the night before the AFC Championship. I also understand and admit and acknowledge that NONE OF THIS IS IMPORTANT, except for exactly as much as we all agree that it's important.
I think some part of me is writing just because I feel compelled to offer a defense, an announcement that I know it doesn't matter, and that I get enthusiastic anyhow. I want people to know I have my priorities straight, but as I write this sentence, I begin to realize that perhaps I don't have my priorities straight, or at least I don't know that I agree with what I imagine other people's right priorities are.
Maybe I just want to write a defense of myself, that as a thinking, feeling person, I can still give a lot of shits about something as mystical, irrational and violent as football. I want to write about the accretion of emotion, the layering of meaning and feeling and history into a hard, knotted pit in my stomach. The connections I make with others, the connections I make with myself, the feeling of true joy I get from seeing old favorites appearing and winning and trying again. I want to make sense out of it, though I worry there isn't much sense to be made here.
Now we've won the Superbowl and it doesn't really matter, except how it does late at night when in my heart I sigh with a strange and unearned contentment. A contentment that is hard to come by.
Thinking about it on this night, particularly, I come to this: LeBron James is Jon Snow, bringing home victory to his people. Then I got wrapped up in who, exactly, LeBron would be on Game of Thrones and that went nowhere interesting. (Besides he's really Rand al Thor.)
What am I really trying to say? I'm all mixed up about Jon Snow and Game of Thrones and sports and gayness and Father's Day and a heat wave and I need to go to bed.
I'm thinking about God, I guess.
I've been thinking about God and queerness a lot lately, but right now I'm thinking about God and striving: a classic pairing with sports activities.
After a very, very near run for the Cavaliers, a very improbable situation, a late injury, they somehow...they somehow won. Anyway, in Ye Olde Post-Game Interviewe, it felt a little like LeBron was talking about his experience, not running through talking points. He said it has been a long road, and "...instead of saying, 'Why me?', saying, 'This is what He wants me to do'".
On Game of Thrones, we see Jon Snow ask Melisandre what kind of god would want to bring him back from the dead just to die again, and she says, "The one we have."
Which, I mean, the one we have in that case is an old and crotchety football-loving man in Santa Fe, New Mexico. And here we are, back at one of my favorite mystical and violent pursuits.
p.s. I'm glad Cleveland got a title, but I have no regrets about the Drive.