Saturday, February 11, 2012

The New York Giants Win the Superbowl - and what to make of the fact that so many of us care

Don't get me wrong: I watched the Superbowl and I rooted for the Giants and I was glad they won. But two days later there was a big parade in New York City to celebrate their victory, and I admit I wasn't excited enough to join that parade -- though I was very interested in seeing people streaming along the street below my window in lower Manhattan as they made their way to the parade route.

What does this parade tell us? Quite a bit. First, we're a species that likes to do things together. Not all of us, not all of the time -- I plan to over-generalize here! -- but it's one of the things that clearly speaks to many of us. Second, we like to celebrate, and we like to keep things relatively simple -- which is why a parade in honor of Iraq war veterans isn't going to command the spontaneous assent and embrace that the Giants' victory parade received. Third, we're also a species that likes sports. I mean, really likes sports. Today's news includes the Yankees' payroll for next year, which is under a self-imposed cap of $213 million; it also includes the news that the University of West Virginia (that's an institution of higher education) may pay $20 million to the Big East athletic conference to extract itself from that grouping and go join the Big 12 instead.

We could be a different species. We could not be descended from chattering monkeys, but from some more level-headed, or high-minded, ancestral source. Or perhaps we couldn't. Maybe there never has been such an admirable species, or maybe it did once exist but somebody else was quicker to the prey.

In any case, this is the species we've got. I don't say that we should lead our lives in constant thrall to this side of ourselves, and in fact that wouldn't be true to what we are either -- lots of people, maybe most, have their serious and principled side. But I do think that as we try to build a society that is just and caring, we've got to remember that it has to appeal to our football-playing, parade-joining, thrill-seeking side as well.

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