Tuesday, October 14, 2003

I feel I should sympathize with David Brooks, but he really doesn’t make it easy.

To begin with I really don’t enjoy the whole pennant thing right now. It’s not that I don’t like the Cubs as a team. It would be nice for them if they won. But on game days I go out of my way to avoid Wrigleyille. I realize that not all Cubs fans are drunken ex-fratboy yuppies with their overdressed girlfriends swishing on their arms. I realize that most people don’t urinate against buildings and loot and block traffic. But that contingent of sports fans pretty much ruins the whole Cubs experience for me. So as we approach a potential pennant victory, I find myself wishing I could be in another city till the whole thing is over.

In fact here is exactly how I feel, just substitute Cubs and Chicago for Sox and Boston.

So yeah, Brooks does have a point when he says this:
It occurs to me that some of my friends in the Southwest may be watching the series on TV, and may be alarmed by some of the behavior they are seeing on the field and elsewhere. They may think it impolite to grab a 72-year-old man by the head and toss him to the ground, or throw hard objects at people's faces, or hold dueling press conferences calling each other names.

He is of course speaking of this incident at the Yankees-Red Sox game on Saturday.

But I can’t help wondering two things. The first, since when has professional sports been a model of civility and decorum? The second; under what rock does Brooks live? I’d wager it’s a giant gilded one in the manicured garden of a gated community. The only thing wrong with it is that it’s not in Tucson.
My friends should remember that the Yankees-Red Sox series is a contest between two Northeastern teams, and while the Northeast is no longer a particularly important region of the country — we haven't sent a person to the White House in 43 years — we do have a distinct way of doing things, which we cherish.

For example, while most people in the Southwest seek pleasure and avoid stress, we in the Northeast do not have that orientation. The place in their culture that is occupied by the concept "happiness" is occupied in our culture by the concept "cursing at each other."

I’m not going to defend idiots who think turning over a car is an acceptable form of celebrating victory. Nor am I going to make a case that the Northeast is a better place to live than the Southwest. I’m merely pointing out that drunken sports fans whoop it up after games have nothing to do with the red state blue-state polarization.

Reading this piece it’s hard to picture Brooks physically attending this game. Did he brave the stands holding a scented hanky to his nose the entire time? Or did he observe from the safety of his skybox, peering at the mayhem through his opera glasses? It’s not that I object to his snobbery. In many ways I am a snob. But I know enough not go to places where my snobbish sensibilities might be offended.

Brooks could have written a better piece than this. He could have written about sports and alcohol and rivalry. And I might have enjoyed reading it. But Brooks lives in a red and blue world where the antics of rabid sports fans are limited to one region of the country and thus condemn it to political irrelevancy. Others have pointed out Brooks’ peculiar form of color blindness so I won’t go into it.

Meanwhile, tonight is game six. Go Cubs and God help us.

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