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Day 33: The Sweetest Irony

September 10, 2010

The first day of the NFL season ended up being eventful on multiple fronts, from the ironic to the heart-breaking to the fulfilling.

Things got rolling around 3pm when I sat for an interview with KBAK/KBFX on the occasion of the season opener.  We discussed the background and the growth of Year Without Football and some of the interesting offshoots.  The crew contrasted this by heading to a local sports bar to ask people what they thought.  They interviewed a couple of dopey waitresses, one of which gave one of the most thought-provoking responses to the project…

“Why don’t you just enjoy the game and stop making it something it doesn’t need to be?” – Some 22-year-old dropout

THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT!  I can’t enjoy it “for what it is” anymore because of the elevated hype around things that DON’T MATTER.  (Legit question for another day: If I’m supposed to just “stop making it something it doesn’t need to be”, then what exactly is it supposed to “be”?)  That quote just rubbed me the wrong way, like saying “just shut up and eat your gruel.”  Regardless, the piece did a nice job of shining a different light on the project.

As the crew packed their gear and departed, they asked to get some footage of me flipping through the ESPN stations to show how they were blocked.  As I did, I noticed that some of the stations began to freeze and lag as I flipped.  Thought nothing of it.

As the NFL’s season kickoff approached by the minute, Twitter and Facebook swelled while I remained blissfully removed from the proceedings.  The analog TV set by my main coumputer was now frozen on ALL stations but Home Shopping.  As I monitored Facebook, other friends in the Bakersfield area began reporting similar instances of frozen channels.  My wife, a producer for a local news station, asked about the same thing and informed me that they had been having similar difficulties.

It turns out that Bright House Networks, the area’s main cable TV provider, had suffered an county-wide outage RIGHT BEFORE KICKOFF.  This apparently triggered a city-wide freakout, not only among the sports fans but among the elderly and secretarial demographic anxiously awaiting this week’s edition of Big Brother.  Service returned at about 8:45pm Pacific time…

Congratulations, Bakersfield, for unwittingly joining the Year Without Football!  You’re one day in, hope you can make it for the long haul!   BWAHAHAHAHA!

Without TV as a viable distraction option, I reverted to the XBox to break in my copy of NHL 11.  It’s the first hockey game I’ve played new since 2005, so I had to adjust to the controls and the new modes.  The one I enjoyed the most was the “Be A Pro” mode, which takes you, as the player, through the Canadian junior hockey ranks through the NHL Entry Draft and pre-season evaluations on the way to joining a full-time NHL roster.  You play as only your created player, so if your shift is done, you watch the game from the bench.  If you incur a penalty, you watch from the penalty box.  If you pick up a game misconduct, GAME OVER.

The first step is getting picked up by a junior team and I was thrilled to get randomly allocated to the Western Hockey LEague’s Calgary Hitmen, founded, makesaked and formerly owned by 5-time WWF Champion Bret Hart.  He’d occasionally wear the sweater to the ring, making the team the most recognizable Major Junior Team in the world, so I was enthused about the selection.  My player scored 5 goals in the round-robin portion of the Memorial Cup before falling to the Brandon Wheat Kings in the semifinals.  The game’s agents and GMs had informed me that I’d performed well enough to get drafted between 3rd and 7th.  The computerized draft ended up pulling my player as the 5th overall pick…

…by the New York Islanders.

I’ve had some pretty painful memories in my video gaming days.  It took me over 14 years to defeat Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the NES.  I got blisters on my palm from playing that one game in Mario Party on the N64 where you have to rotate the stick quickly.  My personal high scores were only good enough for 4th place locally at the Blockbuster World Championships on Staten Island.

Getting drafted by the Islanders tops all of those deflating moments for the simple fact that because you can’t control the GM and other players, my team has no shot of succeeding.  Combine that with my lifelong aversion to the franchise as a Rangers fan.  This is like getting placed on the Little League team with the coach serving out his  community service.  My player’s morale has definitely been affected; only one goal in the pre-season (an empty-netter), one assist and a handful of major penalties.

It’s a frustrating game, but those are the ones that end up being most rewarding.  If you’ve ever played BioShock or Mass Effect, you know what I mean.

It’s Friday morning and I remain blissfully ignorant of the result of the season-opener.  The chatter in social media has died down and the collective attention span has moved to the weekend.  I managed to escape the first day of the NFL year…we’ve got a long way to go.


One Comment
  1. Kayleen permalink
    September 10, 2010 12:02 PM

    lol So I think this is great! Mostly because I hate sports in general. For the very uncoordinated like me, P.E. and sports in general is just an opportunity to receive scowls, sounds of disapproval, and unkind comments from fortunate teammates who DO have skills. So I’m supporting your boycott – stay strong!

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