I grew up in the 1950’s, in the “Happy Days.” Contrary to common thinking among Gen Xers and Millennials, we knew some pretty cool stuff.
In the 50’s we weren’t ashamed to watch TV with our parents or our kids. Telephones were attached to wires, and we actually talked on them. Gen Xers and Millennials own cell phones, but they mostly text, even in the same room with the person they’re texting.
We listened to music on transistor radios and funny-looking, box-like devices called record players and stereos. Music was recorded on 78s, 45s, and LPs; Gen Xers and Millennials have Smart Phones and iPods.
We wore blue jeans and tee shirts, but we didn’t have holes, advertisements, or obscenities printed on them.
We wore sneakers, but only two brands: U. S. Keds and Converse. Our sneakers didn’t have any lights or logos, but we thought they were pretty cool, so cool in fact that we rolled up our jeans six inches and wore white socks to show off our sneakers. However, they were not so cool that anyone would kill you for a pair.
We had football games; Gen Xers and Millennials have more football games, and more football games, and more football games. And when one is about to barf from watching football games, there is the Super Bowl.
We wore sports jackets, neckties, and saddle oxfords to college football games. Pro ball was in its infancy, so we watched game highlights at the movies, part of the short features. Not much live on TV in those days.
Neckties are long, slender strips of colorful wool or silk that are wrapped around men’s necks, tied in a pretty knot, and slipped up under the collar of a pressed shirt.
Neckties often had fraternity and university logos embroidered on them. You have to be pretty old to remember neckties, but you can still buy them at flea markets.
If you don’t know or can’t remember what neckties look like, maybe your mom has some old photos in the attic. Almost all college guys wore them in the 50’s, but now only bankers, life insurance salesmen, and undertakers wear them.
People now wear grungy clothes, spray paint their hair and smear grease paint on their half-naked bodies at football games. They hold up signs hoping to be seen on TV. They dress up like hogs or dogs or dolphins, or some other ridiculous-looking creature.
I got to thinking about this the other day watching some goon strut his stuff before the TV cameras at an NFL playoff game. Cool outfit! His mom would be proud.
The main difference in the 50s and now is that we didn’t dress for the football game; we dressed for the parties afterward.
Parties now start before the games. Parties start close to the stadium and spread out about five miles in all directions, including parking lots and sports bars that provide party venues for fans who arrive in every kind of vehicle from rusty pickups to plush motor homes.
Sometimes parties start days before the game, ending when fans run out of beer or pass out, whichever comes first. Most parties resume early on game day and continue for hours after the game, or until they run out of beer or pass out.
Parties need to take that long, because it takes hours for those goofy, over-the-hill-has-been-athlete-commentators to tell us “idiots” what we saw during the game. And what plays the coaches should have called.
They think they need to tell us why it happened, what every player and coach was thinking before, during, and after each play. We also need to know where he will be playing and/or coaching next year and how much money he will be making, and why he and his head coach can’t get along with each other, much less live on a measly $17 million a year, plus endorsements.
And highlights. Lots of highlights.
The sad thing is, millions of people care!
O.K. I admit it. I’m envious. In my day, we actually played football just for the fun. It wasn’t any big deal. The only people who came to the games were players’ relatives.
People attended games because they had nothing else to do. About the only comments heard after the games were, “Well, those boneheads lost another one. We’ll get‘em next year. Where are we going to eat?”
Just so you can place me in the proper time frame, I’ll say this: I played football after soft leather helmets but before face masks were mandatory equipment. I’m old enough to remember the single wing, quick kicks, and games that lasted only two hours.
And those silly fans in my day, they actually watched the games without instant replays, and stayed in the stadium until the game was over. A few fans are like fans are now; they leave after the third quarter to get into the traffic early so they can fuss, fume and make obscene gestures ahead of the crowd.
But talking about dumb fans, I just got back from driving an hour in the rain to pick up my snacks for tomorrow’s playoff games.
Things could be worse, though. I could be snowbound in an airport with a bunch of rowdy, funny-dressed people holding $2,000 tickets.
But I’m not, I’m stuck watching the playoffs on my TV in a nice warm, dry house where nobody will spill beer on me, and I can put the TV on pause to go the restroom, not missing a single moment of the high drama. What luck!
“Call time out. Call time out! Call time out, you idiot!”
Some things—and fans—never change.