Athletes, and some musicians, and the rare actor, who still does theater on the side, remain the only celebrities who merit authentic celebration for their talent in a world in which so much entertainment is staged. I believe this to be true because, unlike actors or recording artists, athletes lose right before our eyes. They can get shellacked, or get cheated by a game-ending call, or simply come up just inches short, and in front of a zillion cameras we get to see how they react. That’s real theater. That’s real entertainment. Sports surpasses show business, or, better said, sports is show business at its best, precisely because there ain’t no acting. And when the game ends, or when the call goes wrong, the cameras inevitably show the truth about someone in defeat more than in victory.
Eager to watch the post-game Super Bowl handshake, or, I supposed at the time, hug, between the Harbaugh brothers, I, well, let’s just say... I bet their mother was proud of John and a bit perturbed with Jim, even though John belichicked a cameraman as he hunted for his brother at midfield. As the game ended and the Ravens darted all over the field, the Superdome was, yes, electric with the energy of the predominantly Baltimore-bred spectators. Confetti was spilling out everywhere, and John Harbaugh still had the tact, or tenacity, or self-control, or perhaps simply the sense of mortality, to say to his brother, I love you. Congratulations. For saying, I love you. John, in recounting the moment, seemed stunned. I can’t figure out if it was his brother’s response which stunned him, or his own ability to articulate a brotherly sentiment at such a camera-driven moment. Nevertheless, congratulations.