One thing I have noticed: when you don’t watch football,
Your brain does not become concussed.
I have not watched a down all season,
And don’t plan to start now.
Best thing about retirement
Is not having to trek to the Meadowlands.
Unchurched on Sundays,
I thank the maker for sweet entire liberated days.
One Saturday we were enjoying barbecue in Red Hook,
And a college game was blaring over my shoulder.
Somewhere in the South. Alabama. Ole Miss. Whatever.
The cadence was familiar. Run-pass-kick.
* * *
I think I could still love basketball,
But that is impossible
In a city of new pencil skyscrapers
And Carmel Anthony.
I cannot believe Phil Jackson took that job
Without permission to unload him.
The Knicks are currently 5-and-26.
I would have thought with a gunner like Melo
They would at least
* * *
Soccer helps, but it comes at the wrong time of day.
I need to write in the morning.
Still, Boxing Day. I love that name.
Rooney and Stevie Gerrard and even that vile John Terry.
There’ll always be an England --
Maybe into the knockout round of the World Cup.
* * *
My dream (see Tim Rohan’s piece in the Sunday Times)
Is that on the first warm day of spring
I will slip into the vast empty steppes near the food court,
With a mozzarella hero from Mama’s,
In the presence of other hard-core lifer true believers,
Who are not there to take freaking selfies.
Entire sections for each pilgrim,
We separately watch Lagares go back on a fly ball,
(“He’s got it,” I reassure my wife, when we watch at home),
And DeGrom’s hair and arms flap in the spring breeze.
And the two kids strut out of the bullpen,
And earnest Daniel Murphy (the Peepul’s Cherce).
That sustains me
Through the winter of bad teams and ugly new buildings.
Welcome to World Cup 2022, the most absurd thing that the routinely absurd world of sports has ever produced.
Those extreme descriptions were what virtually the entire world, save for those who had walked off with bags of cash from Qatar, called the awarding of soccer’s greatest event to the incredibly tiny, incredibly wealthy country back in 2010.
Twelve years ago, many were convinced this event couldn’t possibly happen: staging the world’s biggest sporting event in a country the size of Connecticut, one with zero soccer culture and even less soccer infrastructure? The tournament couldn’t possibly take place in 120-degree heat, and FIFA, the governing body of soccer, most certainly wouldn’t upend football leagues around the world to change the traditional summer schedule, could it?
And, for God’s sake, what about the beer?
Those were just the logistical concerns. The moral concerns are far more distressing. FIFA, so busy paying lip service to equality, couldn’t possibly expect the world to embrace a country where you could go to prison for being gay, where women’s rights are severely curtailed and female victims of sexual assault could go to prison, charged with engaging in extramarital sex. And all those questions came before the global realization that the World Cup was being built on the backs of migrant labor: modern-day slaves held in Qatar with virtually no rights, low wages and no ability to leave. Migrants make up 90% of Qatar’s stated population of 3 million. The country’s native-born equal about 300,000, or roughly the size of Anaheim.
---Ann Killion, columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle.