I'm sure that by now everyone knows that Al Bundy played High School football. And just how many TD's he scored in the big game. As is often the way of so much of Hollywood and modern TV, the people who write this stuff often seek to deconstruct some of the more important parts of our culture, of the bedrock that has made us what we are, or rather perhaps, what we were.
Now where I grew up, school sports had some import, but they were really only important to the people who had kids in school, and those kids. But they weren't mocked. When I moved to the west coast, school sports really lost a lot of their importance, and the closer you got to any city, the less anyone cared. But now that I'm living in the south again (I was stationed in Mississippi when I was in the service, hence why I can spell it without having to look it up), I have again seen the dominant and almost overwhelming role that school sports plays here.
And that's a good thing.
You see, there are a lot of lessons you're supposed to learn in school. How to think for yourself is the one that's been under attack lately. Basic history, math, economics, those things are pretty much long gone. Don't even get me started on civics. But all of those things were there to teach the basics, to stop you from being ignorant, to give you a sense of place in our country, let you stand on your own two feet, and prepare you to make something of yourself.
High School sports have a different lesson. High School sports is about teaching you to cope. To cope with failure, and just as importantly, to cope with success. You win some, you lose some, right? But how many kids nowadays have never been allowed to lose, so the first time they come up against adversarial situations, not only are they destroyed by it, but many times kill themselves over their failure? How many kids who suddenly find success, and not knowing how to deal with it, lose everything?
That's what playing sports teaches you, up and above teamwork, respecting the others on your teams and respecting the opponents, it teaches you how to come back after failure. How to deal with loss, how to keep keeping on, how to persevere, how to come back and try again. Those are very important lessons to a young man or woman. School sports also teaches you that when you win, that's not the end. You still have to go back out there and win again, and again. Or maybe next time you lose. You learn that just as failure is temporary, winning is temporary as well. Because there is always something new, there is always another challenge.
Life is like that.
And that's why I never really cared for that little joke. Yeah, on the one hand it's kinda funny that Al's biggest achievement is something he did in High School, and he never did anything again after that. It's also kind of sad. People who did well at school sports do not necessarily go on to be rich and famous, or even highly successful. But I've noticed there tends to be a lot fewer failures among those folks than those who never participated. Because you only fail when you stop trying, and the goal of school sports is to teach you to keep trying. Even when things are at their worst.