Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Post about Sports (in a way)

Before broaching the matter of sports, I'll fill you in on last night, which was uneventful, save for one thing. Our friends K and E (not to be confused with K and B) were scheduled to visit us this weekend. But they're moving from Iowa City to Northampton on Tuesday, so of course they had to cancel!

Yeah, you always think that you'll have your move under control and can go off the weekend before, but something always happens. Anyway, we wish them well with their move (and with fixing their radon problem, something us rentors don't really have to worry about...unless the landlord is apathetic and doesn't care if you're exposed to radon).

Before hearing the sad news about the change of plans, I made the basil-lime-zucchini-coconut curry tofu dish that I wrote about yesterday. It's quite tasty, especially if you like basil and lime as much as I do, and the recipe is available on Epicurious if you're interested. I don't have a picture because our camera batteries need to be recharged. After dinner and hearing about the visit cancellation, I continued as though K and E were still coming to visit and did things like clean the bathroom and living room floors and straighten some items. Even though they cancelled, I'm glad that a trip was planned because it caused some of us (who shall remain nameless) to really get things in gear and put away boxes.

On to the Sports Part
On the way to work this morning, I caught Frank Deford's commentary on NPR. I really, really enjoy listening to Frank Deford - I find his voice oddly appealing and his commentary quite entertaining (usually). When I first heard him, and before I saw his picture, I had a very clear image of what he must look like: older, mustachioed, slicked-back hair that could become bushy when untamed. If you look at his picture, you'll see that this is exactly what he looks like. Crazy.

This morning, Frank was pondering the connection between nationalism and sports, specifically about why the national anthem is played at sporting events in America. It's a good question: Why? It's not played at other events, like theatre or the opera....why sports? Anyone? KEN, do you know? Is it played at all sports - like golf and tennis?

Frank had an excellent point that at most major sporting events like baseball, the NBA, and especially the NHL, the teams are often not composed of only Americans. So what does it mean to play the national anthem?

I'm glad Frank brought this up, as I was also pondering it while attending the Cardinals game Monday night. Well, I wasn't deeply pondering it...I just wanted to sit down because our seats were in the very top tier just a row away from the railing, and I'm always afraid that I'm going to slip and tumble to my death.

"The national anthem is a lounge act for military showbiz."
This was the best quote from Frank's commentary. He was referring to how the national anthem is so overplayed, the Super Bowl people have to hire military jets to fly over the stadium in order to make the anthem special somehow.

He also had a very good point that, at some events, an announcer reminds the spectators why the national anthem is played. "To honor America, please rise..." If we have to be reminded, do we really care?

Other countries seem to really get behind their national anthem, something that Frank mentioned noting while watching the World Cup. He's right, we don't so much. Is it because the anthem is overplayed, or because it's not as rousing as other anthems? I seem to recall that our anthem is actually based on an English drinking tune, but it certainly doesn't seem like it.

On Another Nationalist Topic
So, the Senate narrowly voted down the proposed flag-burning amendment. What a relief! And not just for freedom-of-speech supporters. Can you imagine if the vote had actually gone to the states?! The voter campaigns would have been absolutely dreadful! If the national anthem isn't overplayed now, it definitely would have been during such a campaign.

Of course, the Missouri senators voted in support of the amendment. But, the democratic Illini senators voted against it.


Anonymous said...

Now you know I'm not the most patriotic in the typical American supporting the war kind of way, but during the Olympics (which I love shamelessly) I love to watch the medal ceremony. When they play our national anthem I get all teary-eyed. Actually, the same result happens when its someone else's national anthem too, unless their anthem just plain sucks. Ours is great because its very dramatic and hard to sing. Sports are like church to some, and every church service needs a hymn. Of course, "Take me out to the Ballgame" is a pretty good one too. Oh Nationalism, what a dangerous trap!


vjl said...

oh, but when i went to the opera in memphis, they did play the national anthem beforehand and c. and i just about crapped our pants. we figured that they were threatened by all of the italian culture we were about to absorb so they needed to throw in something american. except that really, verdi is so much nicer to listen to that i think it was pretty counterproductive...