It’s Only a Game: From the SOTU to the SB

“It’s a terrible death to be talked to death. It’s a terrible death to die.”

Having passed on the State of the Union (SOTU) speech on Tuesday, I’m gearing up for this week’s other Great American Show (GAS), the Super Bowl (SB).

I didn’t opt out of watching the SOTU to make a grand political statement (who would know, or even care?). I am just so tired of hearing that voice and seeing that face. Whatever else this presidency may be, it is exhausting.

So there was some irony when the President of the United States (POTUS) emailed me on Tuesday, “I’m ready to be your voice yet again.” No, I thought, please not that. It’s like Chinese water torture.

But there is no evading this man.

“Friend,” he wrote.

“Tonight’s speech is not about me.

“It’s about you.”

Which is lie number #whatever. I don’t even care any more. I am just so sick of the pettiness.

And it’s contagious, this notion that if you constantly demean someone, the label will stick. If you exaggerate brazenly and often enough, people will stop pushing back. Everywhere I look these days, I see a language debased by hyperbole.

Yesterday I called my bank because I was having a problem accessing my account.

“Thank you for calling,” the voice on the other end said. “To ensure that we give you legendary service, this call may be monitored.”

Really, I thought? Legendary? That must be pretty good service.

“Currently,” the voice continued, “your wait time is more than 10 minutes. Please stay on the line.”

So I’ve decided to turn away from the abrasive world of politics to something more uplifting, something that brings Americans together. Like sports. And nothing brings Americans together like the Super Bowl (SB). Not just the game, but the halftime show, the military flyovers, the national anthem.


I grew up in New England and remember when the then-Boston Patriots came into being in 1960 as part of the American Football League. They didn’t even have a stadium for 11 years and were mostly mediocre. My Harvard classmate, Bobby Leo, had a couple of good years with the team in the late sixties. So I should be rooting for the Patriots.

But I’m not.

Early in the season, in support of Colin Kaepernick’s protest, Eagles strong safety Malcolm Jenkins raised his fist during the national anthem. Although his teammate Chris Long stood for the anthem with his right hand over his heart, he walked over and put his left arm around Jenkins in a show of solidarity. This is more than a gesture, and it goes well beyond sports. Both Jenkins and Long have started foundations – Jenkins’ works with young people in underserved communities, Long’s states, “We believe borders do not limit caring about our fellow neighbors.” Long donated his entire 2017 salary to charity.

Sure, it’s only a game. But these things matter to me.

We raised our family outside Philadelphia, and my sons are diehard Eagles fans. I am wholeheartedly with them on this one.

Go, Eagles!

James G. Blaine

About James G. Blaine

Most of us undervalue what seem our tiny contributions to our communities and the world. As a result, we feel powerless, even victimized. But, like the butterfly effect in science, the lives we lead with our families, in our communities, and at work – all the so-called little things we do – collectively change the world. As I grow older, my ambition grows more modest but not less important: to participate fully and to contribute what I can. That’s my goal with this blog.