I know nothing affirmative of NYT columnist Frank Bruni's history, although simple Sherlockian deduction tells me he can't be from Kansas City, Mo.: "The Chiefs-Colts contest, on the first weekend of the postseason playoffs," writes Bruni, "was one of the most thrilling, spectacular football games I’ve ever seen."
It was a heartbreaker. I am from KCMO, where 2-minute-warning heartbreaks are a decades-long tradition. I actually allowed myself at some point during the Chiefs' 28-point lead to exclaim, They now cannot lose this game. Tradition triumphed.
Don't mistake, I'm no sports fanatic. Following the heartbreaking Chiefs merely happens to be a childhood habit I can't seem to shake. Thus I agree with Bruni that "it was also one of the most discomfiting football games I’ve ever seen," though not for the reason he advances: "[the game was] a blunt reminder of how much pain we fans endorse in the service of our pleasure. All in all five players for the Chiefs went down, exiting before the end of the fourth quarter."
I recall reading somewhere that commercial fishing is the deadliest occupation--and one in which $5 million personal contracts are rare indeed--yet whenever I enjoy a lemon-saturated flounder I am not discomfited by the thought of "endorsing" anyone's pain and suffering (except the flounder's). Perhaps this is insensitive of me, although I also imagine commercial fishermen prefer my insensitivity to any ichthyophagous abstinence.
The pain of inarguable endorsement I do find distressing, however, is our post-9/11 culture's Support the Troops, Thank You for Your Service mentality. It's everywhere; it has helped to make dead heroes of live cannon fodder in the service of some chickenhawk's political hard on; and it feeds Audie Murphy fantasies among impressionable, often unemployed young men who may well discover too late that there's no romance to war.
We should be attitudinally starving the militaristic mindset rather than endorsing it through the aping of some mindless admiration. Nonetheless of course we should support our troops, which we do, just as we should support the service of firefighters, teachers, and McDonald fry cooks, which we do not.
It's a blunt reminder of how much pain we citizens endorse in the service of our savings.