New Orleans My football career is long over and gone. I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t love the game. Truth to tell, I did. I’m not going to lie and say that it wasn’t dangerous. It was. It is. I know. I was hurt, blew out my left knee, as they say. I know better now. The NFL and NCAA are irresponsible, money grubbers, and just bad actors when it comes to their players and pretty much society as a whole. But, truth to tell, living in a football city and a football state, home of the fantastic New Orleans Saints and now the champion LSU Tigers, I have to say, there’s no cure for football fever.
Reports from Baton Rouge in our local papers claim that the economy there has showed an upturn because of excitement and enthusiasm for the LSU team and its unbeaten season.
The Airbnbs’ down the street from our house were all filled up for the first time since the houses were constructed. There was an LSU banner hanging over the fence, so not much doubt what those half-dozen guys were all about.
The front page of the Times-Picayune / New Orleans Advocate had a giant headline, larger than one you would find if we had declared war saying, “TOP CATS.” You get it, right? Both teams called their mascots tigers.
And, believe me, LSU is a sorry second around here to the vaunted, long suffering but finally Super Bowl champs, New Orleans Saints. Twelve months a year, you can see people wearing Saints swag. You would lose money betting me that there isn’t someone on every plane landing in New Orleans that is not wearing some kind of Saints paraphernalia.
The local paper in a shocking exercise of rebellion had the chutzpah to compare the academic and state support of the University of Clemson in South Carolina to the flagship campus of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. LSU was sadly lacking, because it has essentially been defunded by the state during the years of Republican misrule by Brown graduate and Rhodes Scholar Bobby Jindal.
In fact, it’s hard not to admit that one reason the whole population of the city and state succumb to football fever may be because it is one area where we are finally winning. The Saints are often near the best. LSU now for a moment is the best. On every other kind of index and comparison, we battle valiantly for the bottom of the pack in health, education, crime, jobs, income, etc, etc, with Mississippi or Arkansas or some other woebegone area. A recent piece in the New York Times claimed that youth football participation is down in the south. No doubt, but don’t ask anyone in these states if the SEC isn’t the strongest conference in the country!
Football is something we can be proud of. Often, there’s not much else.
I even watched three quarters of the BCS Championships until I was confident the victory was reasonably in hand. Truth to tell as well, I still love the game. These are my people on game day, and I’m also proud to be among them when they have a smile on their face and a swagger in their walk, because those can be rare days as well.
We are the champions! Of something!!