The ING New York City Marathon was cancelled, but the football game of the New York Giants against the Pittsburgh Steelers went ahead. Why? The nation places a higher value on sedentary spectators popping Advil and Viagra, than on lean and wiry runners, whose idea of a big night out is pasta and a few sips of Gatorade. It also helps that pro football has a televised address on 21st and Primetime, while the pleasure of a marathon is simply to finish one, even in the dark.
In canceling the road race, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg made the decision that it would have been insensitive to have marathoners running around a city that was still digging out from the wreckage caused by Sandy, or past those lining up with gas cans. Nor did anyone want police officers or emergency health workers officials involved with the marathon when they could be assisting the recovery of Staten Island or Breezy Point.
On the same Sunday, however, the National Football League, took the position that, even with gasoline short for essential services, the game must go on, much as it did earlier this fall when the regular game officials were locked out of work. The office of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spends a lot of time invoking the mysticism of “the Game,” as though it were the Force or the Church—a higher being (“brought to you by Ford...”).
To protect the interests of the Game, the commissioner regularly suspends or levies fines on coaches or players for putting out bounties, making unfair hits, showing positive drug tests, or for conduct “unbecoming” an NFL player, which ranges from sponsoring dog fighting to taking part in drive-by shootings. His job description is to sustain the illusion that the Raider Nation is the spiritual heir to those chariots of fire.