Proximate Cause

I should say at the outset that I did not watch Superbowl XLIX, nor have I watched more than a handful of NFL games since the 80s. I have no familiarity with the strengths, weaknesses, and styles of any current personnel, and the game itself has probably evolved significantly since I last followed it. I watched the prior two Seahawk appearances at the Super Bowl, but that was more out of tribal affiliation than any true fan support. From all accounts, Seattle's third Super Bowl was the most satisfying as a pure spectacle of the sport. I also think it was the best way to lose.

When a defeat comes at the hands of controversial calls by the officials, as Super Bowl XL arguably did, the frustration and rage at the injustice can consume your life, calling the sport itself into question and making a mockery of your existence as a fan. Your mountains of statistics become damned lies, team colors fade to ashes, and authority devolves to those with the most elaborate conspiracy theories. You might as well follow Italian soccer.

In the case of a true blowout by a team from a higher plane of existence, such as Super Bowl XLVIII, the defeated fan becomes a trauma victim, unable to venture outside lest the 12th Boogeyman jump out from behind the sportsbar and steal their beer money. Your team is clearly in the wrong league, and you start doting on divisional rivalries from before the last realignment and fetishizing decades-old team logos. Your local radio color commentator has your back, but that's it.

I know next to nothing about Pete Carroll, and about what was going through his mind when he called that pass play I know even less. But in my experience, there is nothing so tempting as holding your destiny in your hands and contemplating the most perverse course of action. Whether it is standing at a precipice and feeling the compulsion to jump, sitting at the dinner table and being possessed by a witticism that would be both devastatingly funny as well as an unforgivable faux pas, or looking into one's child's eyes and realizing precisely how to crush their dreams and hobble them for life, the authorial lure is nearly irresistible. For that brief moment, you control the entire narrative, if only to write an indelible tragedy. If you give in to temptation, your judgment alone will be all that ever mattered.

How would you rather lose? From the caprices of hidden and malign forces? Under the crushing weight of superhuman opponents? Or by your own fickle hand?

Stare at that clipboard as long as you like; we'll run another Doritos commercial.

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