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Jim Walker: Football, fall and healing the soul

Don't Take Me Seriously

Posted: September 9, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: September 9, 2011 1:30 a.m.

So, OK, last week, I bemoaned the demise of the summer as an end to good times, and as a metaphor for lost youth. And while I still stand by all that … well, you know, I got over it. I cleaned out the emotional garbage and moved on.

And, my friends, football was, and is, my tonic for recovery.

As the televised games sweep in, an ocean of hope and rejuvenation washes over me, and all things are new and possible.

It’s a brand-new season, and, at least mathematically, every team has a chance to be a champion. And this optimism rubs off on the rest of us.

Though we’ve still got a few days until “official” fall begins, for all intents and purposes, autumn has arrived with the pigskin, and we signal for a fair catch and receive it, gratefully.

With the pros getting on with their real season, and glorious college and exciting high school games filling the stadiums and airwaves, the “fall” is taking on that old, familiar excitement and crispness. We in SoCal just have to close the blackout curtains, turn up the air conditioning and watch the leaves change colors on the TV when ESPN cuts away to the scenery during games broadcast from Massachusetts.

Finally, unblocked, uncorked and free, it’s time to let the television schedule organize our weekends. And, brothers, we will hear no words to the contrary. The guilt-mongering naggers who promote false productivity, bogus higher consciousness and honeydos have been drowned out by the sound of really big guys smashing into each other.

Ah, bliss.

Each four-day weekend will be filled with football from Friday night to Monday night, and midweek games will get us through the bleak times. And if you have all the sports packages, well, you’d better set up cots for your buddies because they will be your family until February.

Fall is the time for bratwurst, beer and bonding, with our alter egos on the field doing the work, feeling the pain and bringing us thrilling, vicarious life. Every game is an emotional roller coaster, far more entertaining than real existence, and if you don’t have a genuine stake in the contest, you root for whoever is behind when you turn the game on.

Your loyalty sways with the point spread. And if the thing gets too lopsided, you just change the channel to a different game, and a better world begins.

Beyond the game, itself, the visuals are stunning. With the colors painted on the artificial turf and on the fans, the graphics added in the broadcast, the fashion statements of today’s uniforms, the tattoos on the players’ arms and their hairdos when they pull off their helmets — well, it’s flat-out pageantry.

With the pros you’ve got bionic ability and freakish size and speed. You can watch for the awe-factor alone, even if you don’t have a favorite team.

And you can always root against the Raiders.

With college games you’ve got bands, chanting fans, close-ups on smiling cheerleaders and players who give everything they have with true heart, or at least the driving need to get a pro contract. And you’ve got team names running the gamut of viciousness from Tigers and Bears to Beavers and Horned Frogs, and from Warriors to Vandals to, well, Commodores.

With high school, unfortunately, you’ve got oddly sized kids in ill-fitting uniforms being run over by genetic exceptions.

But you’ve also got bands, school spirit and crushing throngs of youths milling about the stands and texting each other, which more than makes up for any lack of finesse on the field.

And all of this, boys, is like chicken soup for our tortured souls, worn down by bills and busywork, errands and emotional shortage. Football gets our heart rates up, without the discomfort of exercise. It gives us reason to live.


I am at peace.


Comment at or Twitter @DontSeriously.


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