Russell Baker, the former New York Times columnist who died this week at 93, will be remembered for many things, including his columns and his two acclaimed memoirs, “Growing Up” and “The Good Times.”
But he’s also memorable for pointing out that it’s possible to skip watching the Super Bowl and still have a happy life – a piece of wisdom that might comfort the many Saints fans intent on boycotting the big TV event next month.
Many members of Who Dat Nation are angry, convinced that poor officiating at Sunday’s playoff game against the Los Angeles Rams cost the Saints a place at the Super Bowl. A lot of the fans of the New Orleans franchise say they’ll plan to skip watching this year’s competition for the Lombardi Trophy.
That’s no small thing given the game’s iconic place in American culture, but in a column from the 1970s, Baker pointed to least one sports fan who had opted out of the Super Bowl more than once with no ill effects.
When it comes to Super Bowl LIII, a growing number of Saints fans plan to make like a ref and ignore it.
“Reading about the forthcoming Super Bowl the other day,” Baker quoted a so-called “middle-aged friend” as saying, “I realized I had gone out of my way to avoid every single greatest game ever played for four or five years.”
Along with that confession came the revelation from Baker’s “friend” that he had not watched any of the latest sitcoms, either, or caught the newest movie blockbusters at the theater, or tried the most fashionable fast-food entrée everyone else was talking about.
It doesn’t take too much imagination to assume that Baker’s “friend” was, in fact, Baker himself, and that he’d found some pleasant liberation in not having to experience the prevailing pop culture phenomenon and discuss it at length with other people.
So there’s hope that sports fans can turn a blind eye to the Super Bowl and not only survive game day but enjoy it. Somewhere, we suspect, Russell Baker will be smiling.