Of Football and West Side Story
I come from a long line of football fans. My Grandpa Lewis rooted for the New York Giants, and I don’t think he ever missed a game (a feat, since he was a Baptist pastor). My dad and my brother are die-hard Chicago Bears fans, and my husband, Jesse, cheers on the Irish of Notre Dame in South Bend.
I’ve been to tailgates. I love watching, and listening to the marching bands. I get the shivers standing in the stadiums and watching the guys storm the field. I am swept away by the strength and the courage, the hope and — my goodness — the brutality of the game. But I don’t understand a thing about football.
If a game lasts for three hours, I might see the football and know where it is going for five seconds. I can’t even tell if it gets into the goal. (Through the goal?) It’s not that I don’t care or that I’m not paying attention. I just don’t get it. Football, like algebra, is hard.
Here I am in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a town where there are more than a few football fans. I’m not saying, “When in Rome,” but when you’re in Ann Arbor, a town where even the trees shine maize, it’s easy to step into the football story — even when it’s a story I don’t understand.
One day last year Jesse and I were watching a game with friends, and an ad for the new West Side Story movie came on.
“I have to watch that,” I said.
One of my friends wondered aloud why it was made at all. “You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all,” was his sentiment, and then football came back on and his attention homed in on what I can only imagine was the four billionth blitz he’s seen in his life.
I watched the football players do whatever it was they were doing and thought about Romeo and Juliet, the story West Side Story is based on. What would happen if instead of the feud being based on the Montagues and Capulets, it was between Michigan and Ohio State University? What if the love story happened between a Michigan quarterback and an OSU cheerleader? Or a trumpet player and a flute player from the two marching bands? Or! What if the love story happened between the two head coaches? Honestly, the possibilities are endless!
My friend is right, I suppose. The plot points stay the same, but how they’re presented changes, and can’t the same be said about football? The rules of the game don’t change. We all know what the outcome will be — someone will win; someone will lose — but how it all happens, how the game is played, is different every time.
I think that’s what keeps people coming back to what it is they think they know. I wonder if it’s the basics, the foundation, the rules, the well-worn plot, that settles us — that keeps us feeling safe — so that we can pay attention to and feel riskier things.
In her poem “The Vulture’s Wings,” Mary Oliver describes the blackness of one side of the vulture’s wing and the brightness of its underwing. “Just something / explainable by / the sun’s angle yet / I keep looking / I keep wondering…”
It reminds me of a conversation my friend Jill and I recently had about a story we both know and love. At one point she said she could feel the stirring of a poem happening. I love those moments just before the words reveal themselves. I don’t know what they will become or what will happen, but I’m ready to keep looking. I’m ready to keep wondering at the “Just something” revealed because of “the sun’s angle.”
I think my football friends know exactly what I’m talking about.
This week write a poem about something seen from a particular angle — one that manages to make the reader keep looking. Bring us some wonder and mystery at the start of 2022.
Photo by Marco Nurnberger Creative Commons via Flickr. Post by Callie Feyen.
I have been a fan of Callie Feyen’s writing for quite some time but I finished this book in almost one sitting. If you have ever been in 8th grade, fallen in love, had a best friend, or loved reading, you will love this book. As the mother of an 8th grader, my other genuine hope is that my son will one day have a teacher as gifted as Callie.
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Rick Maxson says
Ally-Ally In Free
Like a bloodhound, nose down,
empty pockets of his ears
dragging the ground,
I no longer search for a life
beyond this one that has become
interesting and never hurts for mystery,
but for now, step out from behind that tree,
with its millions of pages rattling in winds
circling round this enormous backyard.
Come up from a deep dive, big
as a humpback whale and get us all wet.
When we played hide and seek
for hours, until after dark,
there came a time for those not called home,
those too tired to crawl under a back porch
staircase, or cover themselves with leaves,
crouch against the parapet of accessible eaves,
invisibility was not worth it.
And there was the apathy at being tagged
early, waiting into so-what. Finally,
it digressed into a parody of the game
until we fell down laughing, heat rising from our bodies,
our noses running from the leaves and evening air,
all of us lost, sprawled, in a haphazard circle,
silently wondering about the stars.
Jonas Muller says
Toute personne passionnée de football. Ils aimeront cette page parce qu’une histoire de football y est publiée. De nos jours, le jeu se passe dans tous les sports. La majorité de ce jeu se fait dans les casinos. Chaque fois que vous allez à Barcelone, visit les casinos là-bas. Barcelone est à la pointe du jeu et le casino ici est le plus célèbre. La plupart des touristes viennent à Barcelone en hiver.