Thursday, January 19, 2006

Let's Get Mental

Psychosis is a generic psychiatric term for mental states in which the components of rational thought and perception are severely impaired. Persons experiencing a psychosis may hold delusional beliefs…. This is often accompanied by lack of insight into the unusual or bizarre nature of such behavior…. A psychotic episode is often described as involving a "loss of contact with reality".

Bronco Mania rules Denver. Our local pro football team plays the Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday at Mile High Stadium in the AFC championship game. If the Broncos win they go to the Super Bowl.

Pro football fans here get mental on a regular basis. Denver sports fans, in general, are some of the most committed in the country.

It really gets weird around town during the week leading up to the games.

Adults of both genders dress up in Broncos jerseys and colors. And I mean, a lot of people. The Broncos wear blue and orange, so the metro area gets pretty ugly during the playoffs. Even some owners of dogs and cats give their pets "the look."

Colorado Governor Bill Owens and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper have officially asked every person in Colorado to wear orange this coming Friday to show "solidarity with the Broncos."

And remember, the Broncos are only playing for the AFC title. If they win and actually go to the Super Bowl I'm pretty worried what the governor and mayor may do. Maybe pass a law that requires everyone in Colorado to wear a Broncos helmet and an orange jock strap all week leading up to the game?

Fake beards are big around town too. Jake Plummer, the Broncos quarterback, wears an unkempt Grizzly Adams beard. So now some folks--including women and children--are wearing bogus chin rugs.

Back in LA, lots of fans would put little purple and yellow Lakers flags on their cars during one of the teams’ many NBA Finals appearances. Decking your car out with a little flag in Denver only qualifies you as a lukewarm weenie.

To get with the indigenous people along the Front Range you’ve gotta get a Broncos banner up on your garage door and front door and you've gotta stick a little Broncos yard sign in your lawn.

One guy in a town just south of Denver permanently turned the façade of his home into a mini replica of Mile High Stadium. It's an in-state tourist attraction.

It gets weirder still.

A surgeon who lives just north of Denver offered a free vasectomy in exchange for two tickets to the game this weekend against the Steelers.

Now there’s a great deal. You give up your semi-priceless tickets and get neutered at the same time. What self-respecting guy wouldn’t jump on that opportunity?

Another guy, who will only identify himself as “Scott” (son of Dr. Evil?), wants to trade a brand new diamond ring worth thousands for two tickets. He bought the ring as a gift to his wife for the upcoming Valentines Day. That's why he’s making the pitch under an alias.

“I’m just hoping she wouldn’t know I got her the ring. Then if I get the tickets, she would be none the wiser. She’d probably divorce me if she found out.”

If he gets the tickets he plans to go to the game with a friend and not his wife. I’m not sure about the future prospects of that particular marriage.

The weirdness goes beyond the Broncos and reaches even into important local institutions.

These past two years the University of Colorado went through a recruiting scandal with the football program. The corruption in the athletic department brought down the President of the University and the Athletic Director, but not the football coach who was fundamentally responsible for that corruption.

Coach Barnett—who made far more money than the President of CU and the Athletic Director combined—got his pink slip only after CU’s football team lost its last three games of the year by a combined score of 130-23.

Corruption? No biggy. Losing large? Biggy.

Of course, I’m not really in a position to point fingers. By the time I was 8 I was the proud owner of the phone book size “Baseball Encyclopedia” and I tried to memorize the endless baseball stats from cover to cover. At 12 I could tell you the starting lineup of the 1954 Cleveland Indians and who won the National League batting title in 1911.

I’ve played all kinds of sports throughout my life and still do, and even now I can break down the standings and stats on most any pro or college sport. I guess in some cases the boy never leaves the man.

But as much as I love sports and understand the joy people get from playing and watching 'em, I wonder about what's up.

When it gets this out of true—as it has all over the country--it does make you question what’s going on. When people will spend $100,000 for a used baseball it may be time to re-evaluate. A mass national psychosis? Simple garden variety idolatry? Principalites and powers at play?

Come to think of it I should probably sell my mint condition 1968 LA Lakers Fabulous Forum team pennant and maybe even my Stanford Indians 1971 Role Bowl banner. It would be good for the soul.

I’m willing to start the auction at $5000 for the Rose Bowl memorabilia and $10,000 for the Lakers pennant. Let the bidding begin….:^)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A person can hardly beleive this unless they live here and then you admit it is unfortunately true. You forgot about how God himself plays into this Bronco mania. Every Denverite knows God's preference for their team which is revealed in the Blue and Orange sunsets. A couple in today's paper proudly showed off their tatooed calves ( their legs, not baby cows which are also being highlighed due to the stockshow in town) which were permanantly adorned with Bronco player's signatures amidst orange and blue bronco heads. What stuns me is that anybody who has a $100 ticket is actually going to use it and not sell it for 5 times the price. I'll be watching youth lacrosse during the game so you know how I feel about it all...

8:54 PM  
Blogger Wordcat said...

Scalping tickets is just another symptom of the wackiness I'm talking about. You could make a very good living buying low and selling tickies ridiculously high, which is so easy now because you can do it all online. I've heard some talk of trying to outlaw the practice online, but as far as I know I think it's still legal in most states.

10:55 AM  
Blogger Matthew Pascal said...

Just wanted to throw this little story in about scalping tickets. My dad is a basketball coach and in 2000 he was asked to coach the US High School Select Team, which is comprised of the top 10 graduating seniors in the country. They come together for 2 weeks at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO (and no need to worry - they were under the guidance of the many great spiritual directors which can be found in Colorado Springs, so they are all "family values" orientated players!) for practices and then they travel to the NCAA Final Four to play against the International All Star Team in a game immediately before the Final Four championship game.

One of my friends and I decided to go up to watch my dad's team play, and also to watch the Final Four. My friend's father works with a man who has connections with UNC (who was playing that year) and so he was able to get us free tickets to the Final Four. When my friend and I arrived into Indianapolis we had to go to the UNC host hotel to pick up our tickets. We new that people would be hanging around trying to buy tickets from scalpers, but we had no intentions on letting ours go. We are both basketball fans and figured this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to watch the Final Four in person. However after picking our tickets up a few people walked up to us asking if we would be willing to sale them. A guy said to us, "I'll give you $2,000 for your two tickets." Obviously I should have urinated all over myself and taken the money and ran, but luckily I kept my cool and replied back to him; "Are you kidding me, I know what these tickets are worth. Give us $3,000 and we'll let you have them."

He didn't blink an eye, took out a large stack of money and counted out thirty, one-hundred dollar bills...

And the funny thing is that this was on April Fools day so when we called friends and family to let them know what had happend NOBODY believed us.

Ya, sports fans are totally nuts in my mind from time to time. To pay $1,500 dollars for ONE ticket to a basketball game is insane... but hey, I sold my ticket without even thinking twice about it, went and got a room at the Motel 6 and watched the game from a sports bar right downtown... spent about $30 on foood and beverages and had an absolute blast!

7:08 PM  
Blogger anhomily said...

I too was once infected by the national sports psychosis (is it possible for a psychosis to be contagious...?). I was such a diehard baseball fan and in particular, Boston Red Sox fan, that I became a baseball card and autograph dealer practically by the age of 11. Once that big strike happened, though, I became disillusioned, and gave up on it all (it was actually as a result of that that I started looking for "meaning" in my life and not much later got baptized). Not being in America makes the whole sports psychosis seem even stranger... though football fever is pretty international

3:57 AM  
Blogger Wordcat said...

You sound like an Arab trader on the streets of Cairo, MP. $3000 would buy a lot of food and beverages!

And, no, it's not technically possible to have a national psychosis :^) We all have to have our only little private episodes which just happen to fixate on sports delusions....

12:52 PM  

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