Remember the anthem of the Piano Man?
Imagine it’s late on a Saturday night and you’re alone. You step into a piano bar and plant yourself on a stool and rest your elbows on the black lacquer lid of an old Steinway. The smells of the joint are a cacophony of cheap perfume, stale beer, booze breaths, cigarettes, and cool air from an air conditioner, whose filter hasn’t been changed in three months.
The bar is dark except for a few spotlights driving shafts of light to the piano man’s keyboard and the top of the piano. Apparitions of cigarette smoke dance through the light, as you feel the piano keys strike the cords and the sound courses through your elbows and then through your body.
You order a gin and tonic, to assuage the weight of your world, and then the piano man plays the Anthem.
“It’s a pretty good crowd for a Saturday, And the manager gives me a smile, ‘Cause he knows that it’s me they’ve been coming to see to forget about life for a while.”
“…To forget about life for a while.”
Let that sit on your mind for a moment, and then try to digest what our favorite sports teams are doing to us.
We live in a very complex world where we live on information overload, rapid schedules, societal strife, family pressures, broken hearts, politicians lying to us, and blood on our streets. Sometimes it’s just hard to put on your socks in the morning or drive to work, but we are Americans and we do it.
But in our minds we know we can find a respite from the rapacious world which chews on us every day. And for many, that respite is sports. It’s entertainment.
But now, the world we seek to flee has jumped the stadium gate and has taken the field, daring us to try and escape. But now we can’t. The field will have messages scrawled upon it reminding us how our ancestors, or someone’s ancestors, mistreated someone else’s ancestors. The players will only play if they can wear social justice logos on their uniforms, as an added reminder that though we are paying their seven-figure salaries, we still owe them and the debt will never be repaid. You can’t escape, if you go to the game or even watch it on TV.
What was once known as an offensive drive to score, is now a drive to instill guilt into your mind for an offense you did not commit or have knowledge of. You came to this game to “forget about life for a while,” but the stadium and the players ratchet up your anxiety even more. Alas, there is only one escape and that is to boycott their racial circus.
So the next time you are at the bar talking to Davey, who’s still in the Navy and will be for life, remember you must direct the Piano Man to play the songs you want to hear, or you won’t put bread in his jar.