For the past four years or so my brother and I participated in a football pool during the NFL season. Each week we predicted, against the spread, who would win the NFL games. We called ourselves the Raccoon Lodge in deference to the place where Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton frolicked when they wanted "good, clean, fun."
In one of our early years in the pool, our success was so pitiful that during the season we asked our mother, who knows as much about football as we know about say, knitting, to select the winners. And she did about as well as we did.
So for several seasons the Raccoon Lodge struggled. This year, however, we seemed to hit a hot streak. Going into the last game of the season we were up by five games on our closest competitor. On the final Sunday morning of the season, just yesterday January 2, we were on the phone for a long confab talking about who we should select to maintain our advantage and come away with first place. We pooled our wisdom and had a miserable week.
Nevertheless, because of our five game advantage we managed to prevail winning the league by three points. It was not easy. After the early games we figured out that we would have to lose every single contested game in the afternoon in order to lose our lead. Hah. I left the sports bar where I had been watching the games intensely and went home to enjoy a nice leisurely afternoon that would leave us as winners. How likely would it be that we would lose every single game in the afternoon?
As I sat in my easy chair at home, and as the games progressed, it became clear to me that we were in the process of losing every single game in the afternoon. I took the only steps that one could take. I did what any normal sports fan would do in this situation. I got into my car and went back to my lucky seat in my lucky sports bar. I could not risk sitting in an unlucky seat and tempting fate.
I wasn't in my lucky seat at the lucky sports bar for more than a moment when I saw that one of our teams had gone way ahead. Another game was going our way. Whew. It was a good thing I got to that seat before some other--perhaps a rival in the pool--had discovered the good luck charm which was the third--not the fourth-- seat from the right as you face the bar perpendicular to the main drag.
Today we were formally notified that the Raccoon Lodge won first prize in the contest. Hah. Check that out, Subway the second place challenger, or Speck who came in third. You were going up against the sons of Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton. What kind of chance did you think you had?
Seriously, though, the experience has given me some pause. I wrote in the Madness of March that those who enjoy going to Las Vegas during March Madness are essentially just out on a lark, like someone who might go to Disneyland for a vacation. The sports enthusiasts who travel to Vegas in March are there for a vacation. And I have argued that there is nothing wrong with the excursion.
However, yesterday, I found myself rooting for teams that I typically do not root for because they were our teams in the pool. A "meaningless" touchdown for the Redskins in the Giants/Redskins game bringing the score to 17-14 Giants, was not meaningless to me. It was not meaningless because the Raccoon Lodge had the Redskins plus 4. I wanted to buy a round for the house when the Skins scored that "meaningless" touchdown. I never root for the Colts, but I was hoping that they would defeat Tennessee--by more than 10-- in order to secure the victory for Kramden//Norton.
The truth is that while I am glad the Raccoon Lodge won--like I might be happy when I win any contest--it was not as much fun watching the games yesterday.