The Ennui of Raiders-Chiefs
Dozens of men separate into two teams, muscled and angry and armored in pads and helmets and uniforms, gather inside an arena under an empty sky in Oakland. The groups stare at each other, stomping the ground and beating their chests, while tens of thousands of people who have come to the arena to watch roar in anticipation. Men in striped shirts bring the leaders of the teams to the center of the field. There is a pause, pregnant with violence, as the anticipation builds. Then…
“Why are we doing this?” one of the captains asks his counterpart.
“What do you mean?” the other captain replies.
“Why is football happening?”
“It always happens this way. Every week. Again and again and again. You know this.”
“But today…” He is confused. “Today there is no reason for football. We have no playoffs to strive for. Our fans expect no victories from either of us. We are the Chiefs and the Raiders—strong-sounding names which we do not deserve, for our teams together have more than a score of defeats and only a handful a triumphs. We shame our ancestors every time we attempt to play. No one is watching us on television. No one, save the hopelessly addicted, is wagering on this outcome. For what do we risk life and limb on this field?”
There is a pause as the men on the field consider this. The crowd goes silent. What’s happening? they wonder.Is there going to be football after all?