Pink Floyd’s 1979 hit “Comfortably Numb” contains the lyrics
“When I was a child I had a fever
My hands felt just like two balloons
Now I’ve got that feeling once again
I can’t explain you would not understand
This is not how I am
I have become comfortably numb”
I’m not a Pink Floyd fan per se, but every time I hear that song I think of my experiences with sickness. Every time my temperature spikes I get the same dream and I wake up knowing that I am ill. I can’t explain the dream, I can’t explain the feeling but I just know that I am not feeling well. When I hear this song on the radio or on Muzak somewhere I know instantly what Roger Waters and company are getting at.
In many ways this malaise appears in all aspects of life. We can’t escape the reality that nothing is truly what it seems. Individually, our experiences may be different but we feel the same.
I believe we’ve come a long way as a society and as humanity but there’s so much more that needs to be done. I’ve tried to document my sports world. My background of growing up in a SEC football driven world led me to believe that nothing was bigger than Saturday. Praying to the touchdown gods and the first down saints was what fueled my weeks. The offseason was a place where you looked in the mirror and asked questions about the team’s focus. Was it the coach? Was it the institution? Was it the players? Why can’t they win every year? What is wrong with them?
The answers were not always clear. Even now I struggle with one question in particular. When it comes to sports there’s one huge question I ask. If everyone’s ultimate goal is to win a championship, does that mean every losing team’s season is a waste? Did every other player on every losing team waste their time, energy, sweat and blood for that year because they didn’t win? We could say that some may never win because they play on a less talented team than others? Are there a multitude of other reasons?
For all those kids who went to a school like Vanderbilt, just an example, and played a season of college football, did they waste their years of sports?
Some would say that these kids were given the opportunity to continue to play. Maybe players are stepping on the field for more than just the chance to win. Maybe they just want the scholarship to get an education. If they move to the pro level do they just desire that pay check? Maybe they just want to get some stats.
I guess it’s all up to us what we do things for. Whether it’s why we go to work or why we do things on a daily basis. We get in a pattern – a habit – of doing things and we can’t shake our way out of it. It becomes too simple. It’s too easy to keep doing the same thing, flipping on football on Saturday because we always did it but we don’t know why we did it.
Or maybe we did it because Saturday was our day to go out and get tanked with the crowd? Hang out with those alumni we went to school with and remember the glory days from times long past. Think about the years when there were no daily demands and the living was easy. When we were numb to the outside world. Maybe even dare I say it comfortably numb to everything. Our little world revolved around that campus. Go P U!
Getting older after we left college we never shook that feeling that we should return on game day to keep that old tradition alive. Again – creatures of habit. Some of these we never want to think about or break. Bring the kids to the tailgate and see the drunk alumni grill meat before the game. Go inside a million dollar plus stadium funded by pledges we can’t afford but because we love the school “so much” we’ll give our last penny. Inside our coach, signed by some athletic company for millions, drives young men up and down the field for the glory of the school. Those 18-22 year olds never see a dime for all the cash they bring into the institution even though they can’t afford to go out after the game or even sometimes get a bite to eat. Because they are on an athletic scholarship they can’t get a job – so don’t even go there. So much cash floating around the athletic programs to be gobbled up by the school in donations, endorsements, television and bowls but don’t buy the kids a meal if they can’t afford one. What have we become?
We are so numb to the notion that athletics is so pure that we don’t want to accept the notion that it’s all driven by the mighty dollar. Good old P U wants to win a championship so they can get exposure and bring more money in to build an even bigger stadium. If P U could get their stadium sponsored they’d bring in every company they could to slap their logo on the side. “Welcome to Connecxto Stadium and P U Field.” It’s not pretty but it pays for all the scholarships P U will say. Sure it does. The players can’t have a meal when they are hungry but the alumni giving hundreds of thousands are sitting high up in Connecxto Stadium in a furnished suite watching them beat each other’s brains in for P U glory. I guess it’s all worth it.
Then again I think we’re all numb to the system. We know that markets and money are involved in the world around us. People don’t do things out of the goodness of their hearts – it’s what they can get out of that action. Unfortunately I’m one of those people who would like to think that people do things for the greater good, but I guess I’ve become numb to the world. I’ve become numb to the reality that greed takes many forms and one of them is human. I’m certainly not comfortable with it.