I was shocked to hear that the body of Richard III, the former King of England who lost the game of life on a battlefield in 1485, was found parked under a parking lot thereby solving a 500-year old mystery, the existence of which I was completely unaware. My shock is more pedestrian, insofar as it reminds me that this time of year is not my winter of discontent. In my sports universe, when the Super Bowl ends the air leaves the room, the building and the planet as I know it. The lights went out, all right, and I am left in the dark to ponder existential questions that my keyboard cannot answer. I watch Sportscenter all day in vain. How can these talking heads babble away at so much that exists only in the margins? I guess I need to force myself out of a cup-half-empty mode and into the spring of my contentment. But it ain’t easy, my friends.
The Super Bowl finale to the NFL season is a rite of passage as clear and distinct to me as others might find in autumn, Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s Day. I am forced to recognize the existence and importance of family, the spiritual satisfaction of Sunday mass, the cornucopia of a good Sunday brunch with friends, my January rent, the dead plant in the corner, my weight, and all the other odds and ends of life that need attention and cultivation. I mean, isn’t the death of football really about the rebirth and regeneration of all else that should and could matter in sports? My calendar suggests The Daytona 500 (if I’m really, really, really desperate), The Masters, Spring Training, and an endless supply of pucks and roundball. The incalculable amount of NBA and college basketball that will dominate airtime until MLB’s opening day is really hard to swallow. I’m not a fan of basketball – though I make joyous exception for March Madness – which is no easy thing in Chicago, a city that wraps itself in its legacies. I am either very alone or unique in my approach to basketball, but neither brings me happiness.
Instead I will focus on the Blackhawks and their strike-shortened season of destiny. And I will relish in the White Sox who should find themselves exactly where they were last September, entrenched in a pennant race. And I’m curious to see if the “Theo Trio” can rise like a phoenix to deliver more than a repeat performance of last year’s sleeper season. And I will be glued to my couch as Augusta hosts the most-watched golf tournament and I will pray that Tiger Woods will hold me captive until something happens on moving day when either Rory or some upstart tries to start his own career at the storied grounds.
But all this is just good fill for the too-long period between the Super Bowl and the start of next fall’s NFL season. I’ll survive, mind you, but it won’t be pretty. Unless the Cubs put together a season for the history books. A winning season, that is.