As soon as I read Carol Christ’s comments on football, I said, “Yeah! She’s totally right.” I keep asking people I know who watch football games what is enjoyable about watching large millionaires giving each other concussions. I understand that some sports demand skills I don’t possess, but football? What skills? It’s a mystery to me.
The characters in my new novel, Secret Lives, agree with Carol and me about the Super Bowl. The following excerpt comes from Chapter 21, “A World at War.” The Norns, in disguise as the Wintergreen Sisters, have come to town with the intention of taking power over the heras of the novel, the grandmothers who live in Long Beach, CA, and do magic. Our crones, however, have no intention of being taken over, or even seduced by promises of power, but when they meet on Super Bowl Sunday, 1990, they don’t yet know that the war on TV will be only a tiny fragment of the larger war that the Norns will soon wage against them using gigantic ravens and thunderstorms as their weapons.
Let’s listen in on “the girls.” (Madame Blavatsky is the circle’s familiar, a talking cat.)
On the last Sunday in January, 1990, the circle gathered, Madame Blavatsky mooching every little goodie she could get paws or whiskers on, at Emma Clare’s house for a quiet Sunday potluck. The women there not only to plan the celebration of Imbolc, the true beginning of spring according to their old religion’s lunar calendar, but also to take refuge from the dreaded Super Bowl.
“It’s turned into a national holiday,” Cairo ranted, as she had every year for the past twenty. “It’s a national disgrace. Why would anyone establish a holiday to celebrate violence and commercialism?” This was a topic on which her friends were in full agreement. “There’s more domestic violence today than any other day of the year,” she went on. “The newspapers report it every year. And does anyone care? Sport? Hah! It’s vicarious warfare supported by Big Business. Blocking and kicking. And scoring. And those disgusting little victory dances. It’s testosterone poisoning, that’s what it is. A day for couch potatoes to act out their macho fantasies. Complete with sexy little cheerleader bimbettes to help them get it up.”
“Well,” said Sophie, as Cairo took a breath, “I don’t know why I’m surprised, but Warren’s watching the game with the rest of the boys back at the Towers. I told him he’d better not even think about bringing a cigar into our apartment. And he’d better change his clothes, too.”
“He’ll stink like a saloon,” Julia agreed. “Cigars and beer.” She made gagging sounds and Janie, whose father and brothers were home watching the game, said, “And they leave their mess all over the place, too. And Mom and I are supposed to clean up after them. Yuck-o.”
Up the street at the Towers, the men had commandeered the big-screen television and banished the women from the lounge. They had ordered four dozen pizzas with everything and a dozen buckets of hot wings. They’d made a big run to the 7-Eleven and brought back chips and condiments and spicy foods none of them dared to eat on any day but this one. They’d borrowed the key to the Towers’ kitchen, stocked the big refrigerator with six-packs of beer and malt liquor, and set out boxes of cigars. “We may be senior citizens the rest of the year,” one seventy-eight-year-old fan proclaimed, “but, by God, today we’re young studs again.” “Party down!” “Go, Niners!” “Go, Broncos!”
“Them old coots’ll pay for it tomorrow.” Emma Clare made an easy prediction. “They’ll pay dear.” As the women nodded self-righteously, Bertha smiled, secretly planning how she’d spend the hundred dollars or so she’d win again this year from the little bets she made with the gardeners, the kitchen staff, and one or two of the residents.
I know what the solution for football and testosterone poisoning is. I first read it in Gibbon’s Decline and Fall (1996) by Sheri S. Tepper. Put something in the water to reduce the level of testosterone in every living being on the planet. I think it should be reduced to about 25 percent of what it is now. Sure, we’ll have some repercussions at first as the guys (and the macho girls) wonder where their get-it-up-and-go has got up and went, and we may even see more Viagra, Cialis, and “low T” commercials for a while. (Every time I see one start, I immediately hit the mute button on my remote.) But the Dark Side of the Force will eventually recede and people will begin to see that we are all kin. We are all, every one of us, children of the Goddess, and She wants us to play nice together. With balls, maybe, but not football.
Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. (www.barbaraardinger.com), is a published author and freelance editor. Her newest book is Secret Lives, a novel about grandmothers who do magic. Her earlier nonfiction books include the daybook Pagan Every Day, Finding New Goddesses (a pun-filled parody of goddess encyclopedias), and Goddess Meditations. When she can get away from the computer, she goes to the theater as often as possible—she loves musical theater and movies in which people sing and dance. She is also an active CERT (Community Emergency Rescue Team) volunteer and a member (and occasional secretary pro-tem) of a neighborhood organization that focuses on code enforcement and safety for citizens. She has been an AIDS emotional support volunteer and a literacy volunteer. She is an active member of the neopagan community and is well known for the rituals she creates and leads.