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Vikiings' loss not as bad as Monday mourning

January 20, 1999

Plato noted that fruit is the sweetest and most delicious when it is closest to being rotten.

Some have taken this to mean that societies at their peak of comfort are in the greatest jeopardy of collapse. Me, I think the great visionary philosopher was speaking of the Minnesota Vikings.

Yes, they did it to me again. Near perfect season, perfect record of field goals and then - oops, hooked it.

I don't know which is worse, the Vikings' loss or Monday when "friends" call to offer their "sympathy" over the freak defeat of what was obviously the most incredible pro football juggernaut of the modern era.

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I remember what a personal tragedy it was for me as a boy when the Vikings lost all those Super Bowls in the '70s. But I figured I've grown up, relatively speaking, since then and that my attachment to a group of men, to whom I've never been introduced, could never be so strong as to inflict agony.

Women titter at my distress and think they can cleanse the pain the way they can relieve an infant's discomfort with a casual thump on the back with their "only a silly game" nonsense.

They act so superior. Like they would never condescend to worry themselves over something as trivial as a sporting event.

Look, sweeties. I don't need to be told by a race of people who are basically in the business of developing illogical emotional attachments to everything from stuffed bears to tear-stained cocktail napkins that you're better than I am.

These "there, there it's only a silly game" women are of course the same ones who will press in a Walt Whitman book the worm-nibbled carnation that was given to them by their worthless, gap-toothed, polyester-wearing date at some seventh grade, cola-wreaking sock hop and keep it forever in a scrapbook titled "Whispered Notions in the Springtime of my Life."

Silly? How can you sit there and look at me over top of your Precious Moments/Perestroika Edition collection and tell me I shouldn't waste my time with things that "don't matter?"

And naturally the men are even worse, because they know the secret that it really does matter and know exactly how terrible you're feeling and see it as a wound to be exploited.

Women call attention to sports distresses to make themselves feel superior. Guys call attention to sports distresses to make the other guy feel inferior.

Guys say things like "Your boys had a tough time on Sunday, heh heh heh." My boys. As if I were the coach. Hey, if I'm coach, Randall Cunningham isn't passing in his own territory with a 13 point lead and 30 seconds left in the half.

But that's the perception, and that's why it hurts so much. Your team lost and by extension you lost. Somehow, backing a team that loses is a sign of your own personal weakness.

So I'm taking a page from George Carlin - no really, I have the page right here in front of me from Brain Droppings (memo to George: Notice the attribution):

"It is completely unnecessary to suffer several days' emotional devastation just because your team loses some big, post-season deal like the Super Bowl. Why on earth would you place your happiness and peace of mind in the hands of several dozen strangers? Listen folks, if they win, fine; if they lose @*!# 'em. Let ' em practice more."

In the meantime he says he roots "very hard for slumps, losing streaks, penalties, fights, injuries, team dissension, athletes cracking under pressure and widespread gambling scandals. I'm just looking for an interesting story."

It's not Plato, but right now it's all I got.




Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist

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