I don't really have a rooting interest in this Sunday's Super Bowl — which should come as good news to both the 49ers and the Ravens.
The teams I root for tend to not do really well, much to my own chagrin. They are not spectacularly bad — we're not talking about multi-season losing streaks or legendary defeats (unless you count a really awful game earlier this week that I'm trying really hard to forget). My teams are just … well … mediocre. Usually.
Once every 10 years or so I'll have a team to really get excited about, a team with championship potential. But this year, like most years, I'm trying to enjoy whatever wins come along and not throw things at the television set during the losses.
Who am I kidding? I have to try not to throw things at the television during wins, too.
My teams — football, basketball and baseball — have been mired in mediocrity for so long, I'm beginning to think there's a cause/effect relationship.
I can't tell you how many times I've tuned into a game with one of my teams 10 points ahead, and immediately they begin frittering away the lead. Last week I turned a game on just as my team took a two-point lead with three seconds left to play.
Then I had the displeasure of watching as a player from the other team hit a miraculous 35-foot 3-pointer to win the game as time expired.
For my teams, I seem to be a cause. And the effect is not good.
And it isn't just my sports teams. If I get into a line at the supermarket, the person ahead of me is inevitably going to have a fist-full of coupons and the line will grind to a screeching halt while the cashier examines each and every one. No matter which lane I drive in during freeway rush hour, that's the lane that is going to have to stop while every other lane proceeds smoothly. And if you drive up my street today you'll notice that the icy residue from our most recent snowstorm has melted from every other driveway but mine.
If life were a comic strip, I'd be Joe Btfsplk, Li'l Abner's good-hearted but constantly jinxed friend — you know, the guy with the perpetually dark cloud over his head.
And that's dumb, because the fact of the matter is, I have a pretty great life. I have a terrific wife who puts up with my constant grousing about my sports teams. While she isn't a huge fan, she'll sit and watch a game with me — as long as I'm not throwing things.
We have wonderful children and grandchildren. I have a good job that pays me every two weeks. We live in a great neighborhood with outstanding neighbors and friends.
We have food on our table, Diet Dr Pepper in our refrigerator and indoor plumbing. Aside from a little arthritis in my fingers and a little diabetes in my pancreas, I don't have anything to complain about.
And yet I complain. I allow Things That Really Don't Matter to dominate my thoughts, feelings, attitudes and moods, often at the expense of Things That Really DO Matter.
Deep in my heart I know the winner of the next game, or the time it takes me in the checkout line, or whether or not I have to apply my brakes on the freeway are little things — annoyances at best. Certainly not worth the time, attention and angst I lavish upon them. I know that.
But then I complain and agonize and worry, as if that botched inbounds play or that missed cut-off throw or THAT STUPID DECISION TO GO FOR TWO WHEN A SIMPLE KICKED EXTRA POINT WOULD HAVE TIED THE GAME AND WE COULD HAVE …
See what I mean?
Maybe you do that, too — if not with your sports teams, perhaps with other elements of your life.
We make big deals out of little deals, and we allow external trifles to color our view with shades that may not accurately reflect the actual hues and tints of our lives.
What better time than Super Bowl weekend to step away from the guacamole for a moment to reconsider our priorities within the context of the things we value most. Then we can grab another slice of pizza and sit back and enjoy the game for what it is: a pleasant diversion.
Which, by the way, the 49ers will win by two touchdowns.
Raven fans, you're welcome.
To read more by Joseph B. Walker, please go to www.josephbwalker.com.