Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The First Question

First of all, David is right, I should have switched over at 2:50 to the "Day of the Doctor" and it would have been a much better decision.

Fundamentally, the question of this season is not about disappointment, or frustration, or youth.  The first question of this season is more fundamental than this season, it's the core of all consumed culture: "For whom does this thing exist?"

When an author writes a book, for whom are they writing it?  Are they writing it for themselves? For the potential audience? For the money? For the fame?

When a television show is created, for whom is it created? For the network? For the audience? For the advertisers?

When a team plays a sport, for whom are they playing? For themselves? For the fans? For the ownership? For the paycheck?

That we have never fully answered these questions speak to the fact that there are no right answers, there are no good answers.  This is what leads to our frustration.

Disappointment can only come with expectations.  If you expect nothing, you have a much more difficult time being disappointed.  If you expect something, anything that fails to reach that expectation inevitably becomes a disappointment.  But this leads to an even greater paradox, as it is virtually impossible to live your life in such a way to expect nothing, because as things happen, human nature is to ask for more, to want more, to expect more.

Think about it.  After Notre Dame, in spite of the 0-yard pick six, the trajectory was upwards, the hopes were seemingly limitless.  And then Akron happened, and as we sat in disbelief, we talked ourselves into the hiccup.  But then Connecticut happened and hey, we're not that good, maybe, but we're 4-0 and there's a bye coming up, we'll get it fixed.  And we did, hey, the Jug is saved.

Then Penn State, which was its own nightmare, we suck, wait, we're coming back, wait, we got this, wait, what the hell is this drive, wait we got this, wait Gibbons no, wait, we got this, wait Gibbons no again, wait, we lost it.  But hey, four overtimes, could happen to anyone.  Then Indiana and the record setting offense, and we'll get it sorted out by the time we head to East Lansing.

Then November came, and it mostly comes up blank in my mind.  Part of it simply is that I have been moving, and weekends have been committed to unpacking, slipping the games in when I can. But even then, you just knew, it wasn't going to work, it wasn't going to be right.  Somewhere, Michigan forgot how to play offense, and the madness has set in.

So now we're looking at The Game, and well, five years ago, I spoke of that season as a scar, well-won, but the years since have left us with more scars, achieved in uglier fashion, to the point where as much as you want to ignore the scars, it takes tremendous effort to do so.  We're spoiled, and yes, we should know it, and yes, we do, but when you long for something that may be long gone, that will likely never come back, and even if it does, it will certainly not be the same, it makes the absence so much harder.

But again, it's back to the fundamental question: What if this isn't for us?  What if we really, in the end, don't matter in the equation?  What if we tell ourselves a collective lie because we want to believe that we matter, when the reality is we don't? If we don't, it makes all of the shaming, the ranting, the fan credentials presentations, well, that doesn't matter either, does it?  We're just revenue streams to be tapped, background ambiance to be thrown into a game telecast.  We don't have an impact, and yet, it is possible that these things can mean more to some of us than they do to the players because they're part of the thread that connects our days.

So where does this leave us?  What is the answer?  Well, there isn't one, except to say that we're all going to choose our own paths to the answer, and hopefully we shouldn't judge too harshly the paths chosen by others.

The best we can hope for right now is something of a football miracle, but they've happened before.  It is perhaps a bridge too far to ask for a miracle, but it is certainly not beneath any of us to hope for one.  Because as always, hope dies last.

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