Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Football Season Returns: Spare Me!

Gaaaa! It's that time of year again! I was starkly reminded of this fact last Saturday when I was out with one of my sons. He happened to be wearing a bright red Utah Utes T-shirt. Now, this boy happens to know nothing about University of Utah athletics. The shirt is an artifact of a successful bargain hunt.

My magnificent wife has done yeoman's work over the years making sure that our family has regular portrait photos taken. During their formative years each child has portraits taken near his or her annual birthday. This makes for a good family history record.

Family portraits are a bit different than individual photo sessions. My wife carefully plans what each family member is to wear to ensure a visually pleasing collage. Sometimes we're casual; sometimes formal.

Last year my wife planned for our final family portrait before shipping sons off on missions. One son that is currently serving a mission was studying nuclear physiology at the U of U. Why the U of U? It's the only university in Utah that has a nuclear reactor. He considered out of state universities but opted to stay in Utah.

Our aspiring nuclear physicist enjoyed his time at the U, but he cared not one whit about U of U sports. "Could somebody explain to me again how the university's sports program improves my education?" he would ask.

One fine day my wonderful wife was perusing the clearance offerings in a store. It seems that she cannot pass a rack or a shelf labeled "Clearance" without stopping to look for deals. Suddenly the answer to her dilemma about the wardrobe for the family's upcoming photo session presented itself in the form of Utah Utes T-shirts for only $4 each. The bright red background with the bold white letters and logo would look perfect in the outdoor setting. And besides, we did have a son attending the university.

I'm afraid that I failed to act sufficiently enthused when my wife showed me her frugal find. I'm not a sports guy. I just don't understand it. I can't figure out why I'm supposed to feel engaged in games played by people I don't even know. How is a sports team's performance supposed to impact my life in any functional way? The fact that some of these people are athletic celebrities sways me not one bit. To me the whole thing seems like a modern throwback to tribal brutality. It's like some kind of bizarre state sponsored religion that has its own rituals, holy days, and forms of worship.

But I didn't put up too much of a fuss. For months now I have had on my desk at work a lovely portrait of all seven members of our family clad in Utah Utes T-shirts. Although, to be honest, it kind of galls me to have co-workers think that I am somehow a U of U fan.

Back to last Saturday. My son and I were approached by one of the workers at the establishment we were visiting. She kindly asked about my son's T-shirt. He replied, "I'm not really a fan. It's just the shirt that came up in the rotation this morning."

The worker pushed aside her apron to reveal a BYU logo emblazoned on her dark blue T-shirt. "Well, I'm wearing this shirt to support my team today," she proudly announced.

Dread crept over me as it suddenly dawned on me that it was football season. I guess I should have had fair warning. School has started and the fall colors are coming on. But with my high degree of apathy for football coupled with the fact that I have no kids involved in the sport, I had been going along blissfully ignorant until I found myself in the middle of a tribal rivalry.

I looked around and realized that several other patrons of the establishment were clad in various styles of officially licensed BYU clothing. I wanted no part of this rivalry. I wanted nothing to do with football. I wanted to get out of the place.

By the way, exactly what is wearing something devoted to 'your team' on game day supposed to do? Is it supposed to help the team perform better or something like that? Whoa, that's superstitious. Or is it merely stating one's tribal affiliation so that you know who to like and who to dislike? Which circles back to the whole tribal mentality thing. Maybe I'm just sports impaired. I just don't get it. Moreover, I don't want to get it.

Anyway, my son and I were soon on our way. It's not like we were bullied or beat up by cheerful BYU fans. Neither of us knew nor cared about which games were being played that day. But after getting home I went to my closet and shuffled my portrait worthy Utah Utes T-shirt in the stack to make sure that it won't come up in the rotation until after football season is over.

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