Saturday, February 5, 2011

Death by Super Bowl: The New Broken Heart

Dionysius the Tyrant died of joy; and Thalna died reading news of the honours the Roman Senate had decreed in his favour. Pope Leo X, upon news of the taking of Milan, was rapt with so sudden an excess of joy that he immediately fell into a fever and died. . . . I, for my part, am very little subject to these violent passions, being of a stubborn apprehension which I every day harden and fortify. 
                        - Michel de Montaigne, (Bk. I, Essay ii, "Of Sadness")

The moment the mailman brings me my monthly issue of Clinical Cardiology you can count me missing in action - I'm oblivious to everything else until I've secluded myself in the library and read it cover to cover, which usually takes me about a month, whereupon here's the next issue. And so on.

And a good thing I'm a faithful reader. My latest issue reports that in the two weeks after the Super Bowl, men rooting for the losing team are 15 percent more likely than at other times to die from heart problems. Female fans of the losers are 27 percent more likely to die in those fatal two weeks. And as we would expect, fans of the winning team are "a bit less likely" to die. (Speaking for myself, "a bit less likely" isn't much comfort - are we talking about 14 percent? On the bright side, I concede it's better to die happy than just to die.) “When people have an emotional attachment to their favorite team, the team, in a sense, becomes like a part of the family,” said Dr. Robert Kloner, lead author of the journal article. The article mentions that associated stress can exacerbate high blood pressure, high cholesterol and coronary heart disease, which (being the American way to die) seems beneath mention.

Speaking of family, here's a photo of my favorite nephew  (sorry you had to find out this way, Ryan.)

Troy (de Montaigne) Polamalu

The 112th Super Bowl (I guess they use Roman numerals like they do when they count popes, so it's officially "Super Bowl CXII," unless I've just lost count, but hey, who's infallible?) pits the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Green Bay Packers. I know where Pittsburgh is, I could smell it from my house back in the day, when we used to make steel in the United States. Green Bay, I'm told, is in Canada, which is our largest state. "The Steelers" is properly pronounced "da Stillers," in keeping with the conventions of pronunciation observed throughout western Pennsylvania. (It's referred to as "the Pittsburgh brogue." Why "brogue" should refer both to a dialect and to an item of footwear is a subject for another blog.)

Van Gogh's "Pittsburgh Brogues"

The Super Bowl arouses the poet in us. “Seventy percent of the world is covered by water, the other 30 percent is covered by Troy Polamalu,”  a Florida retiree with a nice turn of phrase in the service of clearly partisan leanings told a Miami Herald reporter. “They’re not gonna lose.” For my part, I'm not gonna have a heart attack over it, ("I, for my part, am very little subject to these violent passions") although my mother will if the Stillers don't pull this one off. She's been waiting, like the bride of Odysseus, since the early 70s, for this day to dawn once again. (She is also the reason I don't find it at all puzzling that a woman's percentage in the post-game lull is a whacking 12 points worse than a man's. It's a good thing I'm not a betting man, I suppose - I'd hate to profit from the misfortune of another, especially if we're talking about Mum.) The greatest testament to her mental clarity and grasp of reality is that she never refers to Ben Roethlisberger as "Bradshaw." Having said all this, I have no partisan interest in any of it.  I go to someone else's house and watch it for the free beer and the snappy commercials.

1 comment:

  1. We used to take advantage of Super Bowl day to go to the mall. Then we stopped going to the mall entirely. So sometimes we go to the grocery store just to experience the emptiness we used to enjoy when we were young enough to go to the grocery store at 2 a.m. Or maybe a movie. But this year, it's so cold that I think we'll just stay at home and read history books.