Monday, December 28, 2009

sports talk radio

In the epilogue to the Madness of March I refer to people who speak of sport zealots pejoratively as "get a lifers." The characterization is intended to suggest that extreme fans need to "get a life" and not dwell on the relatively insignificant world of professional or collegiate sports. I defended these folks in the epilogue arguing that to have a passion for something is important whether it is stamps, politics, square dancing, or any avocational pursuit.

This morning my defense for zealots was put to the test. I had a long drive ahead of me so when I woke up at 3:50 instead of wrestling with attempts to find zs, I just got into the car and started the drive. To pass the time and also to see who all is listening to sports talk, I turned on WFAN in New York. There from 430 to 5 I heard a host speaking passionately about what would have sounded like a major world decision had it not become apparent that the decision had to do with a football team called the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts had had a perfect record until yesterday and decided to eschew an opportunity to finish the season undefeated and protect its stars from injury during a game. The result was a loss. The Colt fans and many pundits were upset. I had seen the game myself and wondered about the wisdom of the coaching staff. Still, the focus on this decision was a bit much. In addition to examining the pros and cons of this decision, the host disparaged the New York Giants, a team that had laid an egg on Sunday in its final home game and thereby had blown its chances of playing in the postseason.

Just about when I was crossing the Tappan Zee Bridge a caller phoned in and claimed he was fired up. It was a little after 5 a.m. The caller said he was very "fired up" (the caller's term used frequently during his two -three minute rant) because he did not like how the host had berated his Giants. He knew, said the caller, that the host was a Redskins fan, and the audacity of a Redskins fan knocking the Giants--on a New York station no less--had fueled the caller's ire. He was barely able to contain himself at 5 or so in the morning. A few minutes later another caller called and thanked the host for taking his call. The caller said he had been on hold for an hour, but it was worth it because he liked the show. This caller defended the host as being dispassionate agreeing that the Giants had played lamely in the contest.

I got to thinking that if this second caller had waited for an hour, then maybe the first furious caller had also been waiting for some time. I wondered how it could be appropriately important at 4 30 a.m. to wait on hold until 5 a.m. to spew steam at a Washington fan for knocking the Giants. The host had not mentioned he was a Redskin fan while I was listening, so this irate caller must be a regular listener and aware of the carpetbagger's allegiance.

I am still reluctant to criticize people who love anything so much that they get upset about it. However, as I waited for the sun to come up and dodged trucks on I-287 and 95--and when I stopped at a rest stop that had a surprising number of customers--I did not have to wonder how the phrase "get a life" had evolved.

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