"so much death, what can man do against such reckless hate." .. King Theoden, Lord of the Rings.
It is everywhere. I am constantly reminded how angry everyone is with each other. We are angry at police officers, despite the fact they risk their lives every day for our safety. We are mad at Black Lives Matter, because they go too far in their right to peacefully protest. We are mad at the rioters in Ferguson and Baltimore. The truth is they speak for injustice. And it is there.
We are mad at politicians. If you are a Republican, you are mad at Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. If you are a Democrat, then you get George Bush (still) and Donald Trump. We spend hours and hours discrediting them in turn. From natural tragedies, to terrorist attacks, lies, to threats of removing illegals... both sides toss hatred at a steady pace through our tilted media, who has become seemingly the National Enquirer on every station, site, and paper.
It makes one tired. And bitter.
And then along comes football...
Ancient governments knew long ago, give the people a catharsis. Or a cynic might say a divergent. Whichever, growing up in today's world billions of people put their thoughts and emotional energy into their team. Be it soccer, rugby, baseball, basketball, hockey, or football... We attend games. We wear jerseys. We watch on television or internet.
For some, they are rewarded with the chance to root and win. Fans of the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Blackhawks, Manchester United, or Pittsburgh Steelers are used to winning. Regularly winning a title in their sport allows the fans great release of pride, joy, and community. Hugging total strangers. Pointing a finger at your rival. Knowing your team is better than another.
For others it is like a pit of despair. The Chicago Cubs for example, can never win a World Series. Or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where they started with a big losing streak and it kind of never stopped. Their .385 franchise record the worst in the NFL. By far. Or more locally, the Minnesota Timberwolves. Or the Minnesota Wild.
Or maybe the Minnesota Vikings.
When Minnesota lost last week 30-13 to the Green Bay Packers at TCF Stadium it returned the anger. The hate. Never mind that the franchise had won only 12 games the previous two years. Never mind that the team has only one winning season in the last five. Fans expected a win, or at least a better performance, and were let down.
A true Vikings' fan could hold much anger. There has been so many close calls to winning or getting to a Super Bowl. The incredible talent that has been a part of our history: Paul Krause, Fran Tarkenton, Alan Page, Chuck Foreman, Randall McDaniel, John Randle, Randy Moss, Adrian Peterson. That is only scratching the surface.
So when we are 7-2 we gather hope. To have it dashed on national television at the hands of our most-hated rivals disheartening. We are prone to anger. We let go of the optimism and replace it with cynicism. How many times have you heard in the last week that this loss was the start of our downfall? Now we are going to play tough teams and we will lose.
Sometimes it is a greater curse to be good and lose, than to be bad and lose. Bucs fans will never know a Minnesotans angst toward football. Fans from Houston, Detroit, and Atlanta not only do not win Super Bowls, but they also regularly lose. When they have a winning record the whole city rejoices.
This Thanksgiving, as I read the Turkey of they Year Award goes to the recently deceased Flip Saunders (a childhood idol), as I stare at the morning news of video of a kid with a knife killed in the street, and knowing how it stirs both sides up, I am saddened. How I see flags at half-mast for losses in terrorist attacks in our ally countries, news channels seemingly promoting war, angry citizens pointing to immigrants even though our motto used to be "give us your tired...". Media vs. Politicians. Media vs. Truth. Safety vs. Kindness.
It is a cynical world.
And so yes, I was angry when we lost to the Packers. I was mad at coaches for leaving the blitz in the red zone. Mad at officials for one-siding the calls early in the game (not that I had much proof they were wrong). Mad at fumbling. Mad at bone-headed head butts. Mad at offensive play-calling. Really mad at penalties.
And by the next day I was better. Others were still upset. "How could they let us down like that?" they would say to me. "We were not who we thought we were" others said, in a distortion of a famous Denny Green quote. The fingers kept pointing.
Suddenly I got it.
There is so much bad in this world. The good in the world long ago lost out in the media. That is why the National Enquirer grew, and became a powerful part of our world. That is why "news" channels like FOX, MSNBC, CNN ... have grown in power and stature. This world gobbles up the bad. The world would rather hear who died than who was born. More important what our enemy believes than what we believe.
Thank the heavens for football.
Football is pretend. Win or lose it is a game played for our entertainment. Our thoughts and prayers can be answered in the positive simply by throwing a touchdown. If the Vikings beat Atlanta this Sunday they will open a two game lead in the wold-card hunt. The playoffs would suddenly look much closer, and the fans will be happier.
In real life it is not that easy. And every action is scrutinized by the other side and then discussed for days and weeks. There may not be an answer to all the violence in some of our communities. There may not be a peaceful way to avoid groups like ISIS. The protests in our own country starting to re-divide us by race. Or were we ever united? Build a wall, forcibly remove illegals, deny others entry .. or feel unsafe?
I am tired of politics. I am tired of Americans being on opposite sides of everything based on their loyalty to a party. I am tired of a few people forcing sweeping generalizations of others be it religion, race, or our beloved police officers.
OK, Green Bay whupped us good last week, We fell to 7-3 and a tie in the division. There is a tough schedule ahead. We may lose more games. We may not be as good as we hoped.
That is fine, for I love cheering for the Vikings, and I do not mind a little adversity. I take the bad with the good.
That is life. Real life.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.