Baxter Black: Katrina’s good sports

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In fall 2008, before the election, as the recession crashed down around us, I gave up on politics.

It appeared that no one on either side, on Wall Street, in Detroit or in the media, had a clue. It was like listening to a basket of turkeys expounding upon the Big Bang Theory.

In the place of politics, I became a sports fan.

Previously PRCA rodeo was the only sport I followed on a regular basis. By last summer, I was engrossed with Major League Baseball and watched the Yankees win the World Series.

Then, in the fall, college football captured my attention. They climaxed with the Soup Bowl, the Broccoli Bowl, the Emesis Basin, the Tangerine Tureen, the Gravy Boat, the Copenhagen Cuspidor and Rudy’s Auto & Salvage Bowl.

That was on Saturdays. We went to the National Finals Rodeo in December and watched Trevor Brazile, our version of Peyton Manning, earn his place in history.

On Sunday afternoons, I could cloud my mind with professional football. I rooted for the Arizona Cardinals out of geographical sympathy, but they were beaten by the eventual Super Bowl winners.

Brett Favre, of Minnesota, carried the ball for us older guys (over forty), like Allen Bach, Bobby Mote and Billy Etbauer do in rodeo.

I missed most of the NFL playoff games because I was on the road, but I did catch the Super Bowl in its entirety, commercials and all. It looked like Larry the Cable Guy had taken over the ad agencies and written their copy. They were funny, but they did make you cringe sometimes.

It was interesting to see the press play up the New Orleans Saints.

Winning the Super Bowl would be proof that they had risen from the devastation of Katrina and would result in the subsequent healing of the city.

The players were carrying the hopes and hearts of America with them. To the media’s relief, the New Orleans Saints came through … decisively. I was rooting for them. I am a sucker for Rudy movies, like the Hoosiers, the Anaheim Ducks and David and Goliath. Ones where the underdog wins.

The Saints, who had one of the worst defensive records in the league, would go up against the best multiple MVP quarterback in the world.

How could they possibly win?

But they did. Just like in the fairy tales, the Sheriff of Nottingham, Darth Vader and Katrina were vanquished. The headlines read: “NEW ORLEANS WINS FOR THE MASSES!”

“We just believed in ourselves, and we knew that we had the entire city and maybe the entire country behind us,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees said.

But I am reminded of the 2001 World Series, two months after 9/11.

New York City had become a huge wound on our country.

The New York Yankees took on the mantle of avenger. The media became their cheerleaders.

Winning the World Series would be the beginning of the healing. The ticker tape parade would show the world that New York City and America could not be put down. We would rise from the ashes.

Ironically, Phoenix did rise. Not from New York City but on the wings of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Which, of course, you would have known if you subscribed to the Tucson Citizen. Otherwise, it is just a sad story that Yankee fans and the rest of the world try to forget.

Thanks, Indianapolis, for being such good sports.

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