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Ishmael Sistrunk

Ishmael Sistrunk

The moment the St. Louis Rams turned into Los Angeles Rams is the moment I stopped caring about NFL football. You can call it sour grapes, bitterness or resentment but there’s just something engrained deep in my psyche that will not allow me to remain loyal to a league that fought so hard (and so dirty) to tear my team away. When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell allowed Rams’ owner Stan Kroenke to fly away to greener pastures, my interest in the league took flight on the same plane out of town.

OK, maybe I’m exaggerating, but only slightly. I knew immediately once the Rams departed that I had about as much interest in watching one of the “Magic Mike” films as I did in seeing a playoff game or the Super Bowl – zero.

It was never really meant to be a public protest or boycott. I didn’t invite others to follow my lead. My decision wasn’t blasted out via Facebook or Twitter for public attention. I didn’t turn into that hater we all know who scoffs at people for “wasting their time” watching sports. Still, whenever I politely declined a Super Bowl party invitation or explained that I didn’t really have a preference as to who won, nor did I plan to watch, people had the same reaction. Their jaws dropped to the floor and they stared in utter disbelief.

Sunday afternoon, the last minute checkups rolled in.

“Are you sure you don’t want to come over and watch the game?” one relative texted. “We’ve got chicken wings.”

“Are you at least going to watch the commercials before the game?” another asked.

Essentially what the Super Bowl has become is a classic American spectacle. Oftentimes, the hype and the festivity of the event far outweighs the actual entertainment of the game. The No Fun League went all draconian a few years back and began suing any and everybody (except its paid sponsors, of course) who used the term ‘Super Bowl’ to advertise anything. That only made the mystique of ‘The Big Game’ grow because outside of news agencies, nobody can utter the term without fear that Goodell and his buddies will show up to relocate their funds to Kroenke’s new NFL West HQ. The Super Bowl is now like the Drake album. Everybody loves it and tunes it, but no man is free to admit it publically.

So what exactly did I do during the game? A lot, actually.

4:15 p.m. – FIFA 16: What better way to ignore an American football game that to play a video game of real football? You know, the properly named one where people actually kick the ball with their feet for 90% of the game. I had a few epic online matches playing the most popular sport in the world. Though I played with the national teams of the USA and Mexico, it might be time to get familiar with the MLS teams since rumor has it, soccer could be returning to St. Louis in the near future.

6:15 p.m. – Urgent Care: After growing tired of hearing me fight a losing battle with an annoying cough over the past few weeks, my wife suggested I go to Urgent Care. On Super Bowl Sunday? Why not. I figured the lines would be non-existent as most guys would have to be on their death bed to skip the big game. I walked in and the game was on, I averted my eyes from the television. After a quick sign in, they directed me to my room, where once again, the game was on the television. A quick press of the off button and I was once again free. An hour later, me and my bronchitis were sent home with some shiny new pills.

7:15 p.m. – The Daily Show: Back home, I knew there was nothing to watch on television. Being a terrible planner, I’d already binged watched Hand of God and Mad Dogs unto completion. Instead of starting a new show, I watched a wonderful episode of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Noah has grown into his role as host and holds it down on his own instead of just being the black guy that replaced Stephen Colbert.

7:45 p.m. – Speed bag: If I were watching the game, I’d be sitting on my butt and stuffing my face with wings, pizza, chips, beer and lots of other unhealthy snacks. I decided to sneak in a quick workout on my trusty speedbag. No, I didn’t pretend that the bag was Goodell or Kroenke (that would be heavy bag work), but I burned a few calories and got in a good sweat.

8:15 p.m. – Food run: Since I’d passed on the parties filled with free-food, I was tasked with fetching dinner for the evening. A quick run to the grocery store elicited me strange looks from the employees. Their eyes openly wondered who was this guy and what did he forget to buy for his football party? The parking lot was barren and I counted three non-employees in the entire place.

After departing, I stopped at a local fast-food burger joint to get something quick and easy. There was no line. I ordered and got my food with no wait time. There was nothing missing from my bag as I’m sure the employees were excited to see some sign of life from the deserted restaurant. The worker handed off the bag like Peyton Manning, fully expecting me to race home in time to catch the end of the game. I didn’t.

Due to the Internet and social media, I had an idea of what was happening in the game. My intent was never to completely avoid everything about the Super Bowl. I just was not going to go out of my way to watch or support it. After the fact, I really don’t feel like a rebel or an outlier. I planned to watch the SportsCenter highlights Monday morning, but never got around to it. The same thing happened with the commercials.

What does the future hold for me in regards to the NFL? Who knows? I’m sure I will watch football in the future, including the Super Bowl. However, without a home team, I’m just not as interested. I skipped the Super Bowl and survived. Only time will tell whether my love for the game does the same.

Follow Ishmael and In the Clutch on Twitter @IshmaelSistrunk

 Ishmael H. Sistrunk is a columnist and the website coordinator for the St. Louis American and http://www.stlamerican.com

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