One of my favorite movie lines comes from the 1979 film "The Jerk." When Navin R. Johnson finds his name in the new phone book, he runs around screaming, "The new phone book's here!" His boss, Harry Hartounian looks puzzled and exclaims, "I wish I could get that excited about nothing."
That's the way I'm starting to feel about the outrage directed at the Eagles over the Michael Vick signing. We're in day 4 of the non-stop call-in talk show banter and it's enough already. Although, when Brian Dawkins left the team for Denver, the banter went on for over a week, so I guess I'll have to pull out the CD collection for my rides to and from work.
If he were the captain of a dog sled team, I suppose the outrage would be justified. But it's a football team, which almost qualifies as nothing. It isn't necessary to watch, participate or pay attention. Callers are saying, "I'm never rooting for the Eagles again." I'm sure that's breaking their hearts over at Lincoln Financial Field. I'm guessing that they don't particularly care. Besides, it doesn't matter whether you root or not. Your feelings have nothing to do with what happens on the field.
60 Minutes ran an interview they did with Vick, but I didn't watch it. I did notice that they sent James Brown to do the interview and ran a story about Coldplay that Steve Kroft reported. I think we would have come a long way in race relations if Brown did the Coldplay story and Kroft did the Vick interview. I'm rooting for that.
I did grin a little, however, when Y.E. Yang beat that brat Tiger Woods on Sunday. "He's never lost a tournament when he's had a 54-hole lead" they told us. Until Sunday. There's something strange in me that enjoys watching him lose. And it didn't matter that I was rooting against him.
The commentators also told us that Yang's victory would "be felt around the world" since he is from South Korea and is the first PGA golfer to win a major championship. Women golfers from South Korea have been winning major championships on the LPGA tour for years, but I guess it suddenly matters because it's a man.
We almost missed the signature moment of the win, when Yang lifted his bag over his head. The CBS cameras were busy following Woods' in his post-tournament sulk-walk off the course. Fortunately, Yang did it again, after Woods had left the course. They pay a little too much attention to Tiger. My guess is that the headlines in Monday's sports sections will read, "Woods Loses PGA" not "Yang Wins PGA."
I do wonder, though, why we root for people or things. We feign happiness for others' success, even though it has nothing to do with us or anything we wish to happen - as though wishing could make it so. Thousands of people jammed the golf course to watch two guys earn more money than most of them earn in three years. They cheered for the winner and felt badly (except me) for the loser. Why, I wonder?
Maybe it has something to do with wanting to back a winner? Maybe it's because we like to be right, and rooting for a winner makes us feel as though we're right? Maybe we think that we have something to do with it? The happiness part does get a little out of control, though. Sports is great entertainment. It's the ultimate "reality show," and maybe the only real one on TV. There's plenty of drama, and we enjoy not knowing the outcome of things.
But we do get excited. We get more excited over sports than we get over things in our personal life, like your kid bringing home an "A" or a clean colonoscopy. Maybe a little too excited.