Friday, January 19, 2007

Litany of the Saints

There is a widely-held if not always explicit belief being passed around town these days that the success or failure of New Orleans rides in some significant way upon the success or failure of our football team. Never before have the Saints come this close to the Super Bowl; never before have I witnessed, first-hand, the sort of manic desperation that results from an entire community of people so completely and unabashedly abdicating their collective mental health.

For example:

Today I attended a suicide prevention workshop at the JCC. This is difficult topic, frightening and taboo and very, very serious. Amongst the thirty or so professionals attending the workshop--therapists, mind you--fully half, perhaps more, wore some sort of Saints attire.

And speaking of suicide, Chris Rose wrote about the very subject in two separate pieces relating to our beloved football team, the first of which referred to suicidal ideation during the fourth quarter of a too-close game; the second article, which I read this morning, flippantly mentioned the S-word in reference to the brutal Chicago weather. Should we be worried about our much-esteemed local journalist? Apparently not. Apparently we should be laughing, or cheering, or both.

What worries me the most about this, even more than the fact that my LOTR-loving husband is currently lounging upstairs in his Deuce McAllister jersey, is the desperation with which people seem to be clinging to the outcome of this game. Don't get me wrong: I'm all for winning, I'd love to see our boys kick Da Bears arses, but there is no part of me that will be despondent or even remotely off-kilter on Monday if things don't go our way. But watching this city go black-and-gold bonkers over the last several weeks has made me stop and wonder about the reason. We love our team but seriously, that's only part of it.

I think we want our community back. Mardi Gras is great, we all hang together for that, but there is no struggle, no feeling of accomplishment. There are no losers in Mardi Gras--unless you count the frat boys who always manage to fall off the streetcar and get themselves arrested--and thus there are no winners and therefore there is no real reason to celebrate together after the hangover subsides. But football! We--or at least the athletes who represent us--get to take on the entire country, city by city, to slam their asses to the ground, rub their faces in the turf, spike the ball in their untouched faces. We get to prove ourselves. And we get to celebrate together, as a community, and to start to talk about what will happen next season. What will happen in the future.

So yeah, it feels like the future of the city is riding on the success or failure of our football team. Does that seem silly?

Did I mention Cade has a hat to match the jersey?

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