Sunday, January 20, 2013

Go Niners?

I’m continuing my M.O. of being a fair-weather sports fan. First the Giants in the World Series and now the Niners. Turned on the TV in the 2nd quarter with the score 17 to 7 and things looked promising when the 49’ers scored within minutes of my watching. Coincidence? I think not! I’m sure that my screaming at the T.V. and my little physical twitches aiming the ball at the right spot were entirely responsible for their victory.

It was a Shakespearean game, overflowing with high drama moments. But instead of writing a sonnet, I tried to capture it in a haiku, complete with the 5-7-5 syllabic structure:

Football Haiku
Missed field goal hits post
Fumble at the one… and yet,
Niners! Super Bowl!!

If I say it was an offensive game, sports fans will know it’s not an insult, but an analysis. But the unsung hero’s were the 49’ers defense holding Atlanta at bay at the 10-yard line. Way to go, fellas!

Since it was the first game I’ve watched all season, I didn’t have the pleasure of identifying with the players. But I was struck by the quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s  little knee-lift just before the hike and his occasional jog up to scrimmage shouting to his linemen. Also some pretty intense tattoos— and he had a lot of company there.

So I’m stoked! Could it be Giants and 49’ers in one (kind of) year? I even wrote another poem.

Joining the Crowd
It takes so little imagination
to join the throngs and shout,
“Go Niners!!!

And yet,
I so happily do so.


But in the midst of the excitement, I wonder how Martin Luther King would have liked the game. I’m preparing for my first TED talk (hooray! more on that later) about the importance of arts education and note that both sports and arts offer some of the same things to kids— discipline, a sense of belonging to a team, of working toward a common goal, of feeling personal power through focused achievement and more. But their final purpose is distinct enough to note. You could play a fantastic game, as Atlanta surely did, and leave the stadium downhearted. As did not only the players, but all the Atlanta fans. But if the SF Symphony and Atlanta Symphony both played a rousing version of Beethoven’s 5th on the same night or even in the same concert hall, they all would leave uplifted. And the audience members too. That’s a difference worth noting.

Of course, I jumped up and down and joined the Facebook “Go Niners!” chorus and generally felt like I achieved something worthwhile by picking San Francisco as my home city. But truth be told, I felt compassion for the Atlanta folks— and later the New England folks (including my son-in-law Ronnie and grandson Alijah). Why does my exultation have to be at the expense of their disappointment? Well, that’s the way the game works and luckily there are other games in town— like the symphony and jazz clubs and gamelans and taiko groups and Orff classes. Thank goodness for that.

Meanwhile, I guess I should it say it one more time, but this time in deference to my brothers and sisters in Atlanta and Boston— “Go Niners.”

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