I attended a staple of American Entertainment this weekend: the big time sporting event. The game I went to in Chicago was not a good game. Both teams were at the bottom of their standings. The beginning was a study in light and sound. The lights dropped as fireworks went off and earthshaking sound shook the arena. A large bull floated like a dirigible through the pumped out smoky haze. Then the basketball game started and it was quiet enough to hear the squeak of the players tennis shoes. First time out and a bagel, a donut, and a coffee cup raced around on the giant Trinatron. The crowd simply went wild. People screamed uncontrollably for the bagel and the donut that ran neck and neck. Then the game resumed and we were back to the squeaks of the tennis shoes. Another time out and a man came out and began shooting T shirts from a large gun into the crowd. The place went nuts. Then a meter came on the Trinatron for screaming. The crowd exploded as the meter went into the red zone. Play resumed and we were back to the squeaks. Another time and out five people tried to eat twenty four cookies in five minutes. The crowd screamed in contortion as a fat man stuck the final five cookies into his mouth. Play resumed and we heard the dulcet tones of rubber on wood.
I began to watch the players on the Trinatron. It was more exciting. More dynamic. When I looked down at the real players they looked strangely normal, a bunch of grown men trying to shove a ball into small hoops. So I went back to the Trinatron. Another time out and a giant tic tac toe board was set up on the half court. People lost their minds as two boys tried to put the giant X's and O's in on the grid. Play resumed and everyone went to sleep. The game ended after overtime failed to get a rise from the crowd. It didn't really matter who won. We all came to see something extraordinary and we did. Too bad it wasn't basketball, but as Americans we expect more from our movies, sports, television shows, than just the event. We expect what Hemingway said so long ago: "In the end the age was handed the kind &*%# it demanded." I guess that's what we got.