With the economy giving even the strongest optimist pause, winter weather which is downright wintery, and the dull ache of the holiday-of-holiday's Christmas nearing - our hometown-heros lost their battle in the interpretive smash-up contest otherwise known as the Poinsettia Bowl.
Last year there were people storming the statehouse after Boise State came from behind to win the Fiesta Bowl. Bronco Fever overcame the city. We had won. Well, not us specifically, but our team had won. The team that lives in our city and goes to our university. And so therefor, for a brief moment of time, we were all winners. Degrees from Boise State suddenly carried more cache. What was labeled "the best college bowl game of all time" became canonized with DVD-Rentals, television talk show appearances, and commemorative books. Gone were the days of BSU/UofI rivalry - Boise had just clicked up one strata into a new level of football consciousness.
We watched the Poinsettia Bowl unfold at The Falcon Tavern - a downtown pub with excellent beer, surprisingly good food and a comfy view of several televisions as well as Main Street. One Jalapeno Burger, One Corned Beef & Pastrami Sandwich, One Nutbrown Ale and One Stout kicked off our football watching. As the game drew on, the third quarter required some coffee. We were treated to many commercials advertising better pee-flow for men and various insurance/banking companies.
When the fourth quarter started, BSU was behind. They kicked a field goal and got some points - but found themselves an unfortunate single-point behind TCU nearing the conclusion. (TCU is Texas Christian University) The team huddles up, devises a strategy, the quarterback throws - and with 1:53 left in the game - the ball is intercepted by the other team. With that small amount of time left, it is almost impossible to get the ball back and make a touchdown - and the loss becomes clear.
From inside the pub, i didn't sense sadness or despair, but an overt numbness. What does it mean to choke in the last moments of a game? What must #11 feel right now, with so many adoring fans left hanging and feeling disappointed in their return to "regular" fan status without an undefeated team to seek exceptions for.
Stopping at the original Albertsons grocery afterward, reminded that the store had a "new look" yet would never be the local hometown favorite it once was, we spotted many in their BSU team gear.
Having played sports - i understand the psychological pressure of the last moments of a close game - which can turn anyones solid mental state into mush. The anticipation turns performance upside down and creates the very thing the anxiety was trying to avoid - failure.
What can we do to deal with this city-wide sense of defeat numbness? Continue on and study ourselves. For it is only in the realization that we are not "our team", that binary competition of us-vs-them has become obsolete, and that performance anxiety is crippling, in all areas of life.