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There are multiple ways to gauge the significance of a sporting event. Attendance and television ratings come to mind, as do post-season implications and shared history between the two teams. In the case of the 49ers’ playoff loss to the New York Giants last weekend, recovery time seems relevant. Not the time it takes for a running back’s ankle to heal or the ringing in a quarterback’s head to go away, but the time necessary for that curiously sick feeling in the pit of one’s stomach to resolve. Going on three days, it’s getting better but not entirely gone.

Those residing outside the fringes of sports fandom sometimes bask in the pseudo-intellectual enjoyment of questioning the sense of happiness or disappointment that followers pin to the fate of their team. They’ll say “it’s only a game” and occasionally point to things like social injustice or the well-being of their children to lend proper perspective. But unlike social injustice, sports is a matter of definitive outcome and resolution. And having spent a recent afternoon at a Target store in Novato, I don’t mind copping to a vague sense of indifference regarding the well-being of some peoples’ kids. Call me a monster if you must, but when they get to that stage where the dull glow of Mom’s eyes is reflected in their own, I’m opting for the Forty-Niners.

Many have pointed in disgust to post-game Twitter death threats directed at the Niners’ Kyle Williams after he muffed two kickoff returns, leading to key New York scores. There is, of course, no defense for such things, and it’s indicative of the ease with which miscreants can access widely-disseminated platforms for social media. But really, who cares? Williams himself seems a class act who, in reaching the highest level of his chosen field, has already out-succeeded the masses relegated to watching the game at home. Sure, his mistakes will stick with him for a long while, but that’s as much a by-product of his success as it is anything else. As for Twitter death-threats, this sort of thing speaks for itself in both cowardice and stupidity. It’s also reflective of a generally lazy impermanence pervasive in these modern times. I remember a time when a kook wanting to compose a death threat had to cut and paste random letters and words in separate fonts from various magazines and newspapers and then hand-glue them to a suitable piece of stationery. He then had to find an envelope and a stamp and locate a mailbox a few neighborhoods over from his own. Now you just type it up on your smartphone, misspellings and all, and hit ‘send’ .. much as I’ll do with this particular posting when I’m done.

It just doesn’t matter, as  Bill Murray pointed out in the 1979 film “Meatballs,” putting the importance of winning and losing in perspective. Willie McCovey’s line out to Bobby Richardson that ended the Giants’ 1962 bid to win the World Series was overshadowed hours later by the Cuban Missile Crisis. Perhaps in some far-reaching corner of the cosmos, others were watching things unfold between Cuba and the United States with the same intense but ultimately detached interest that Giants and Yankees fans followed the Series. We decide, consciously or otherwise, what we allow to touch us and to what degree. And as with deodorant, bagpipes and garlic, a little sensitivity can go a long way.

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One Comment

  1. coleman wrote:


    Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

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