Happy Valentine’s Day …

Happy Valentine’s Day to all.  If the good folks at NPR.com are correct, we should take a moment today to celebrate and appreciate how folks in the US deal with this holiday in the 21st century.  According to NPR.com, Valentine’s Day probably originated in Roman times as the Feast of Lupercalia.  Here is what went down as the Romans did their celebrating:

“From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain.”

Now before you think that is the end of the egregiousness of the festivities consider that:

  1. The men were naked.
  2. The women lined up to take turns getting whipped.

You can find more details about the evolution of this holiday and its celebration here.  Even if you do not take the time to check out the link, I suspect that we can all agree that chocolates and roses are a more refined way to commemorate the 14th day of February than was practiced by the Romans…

Having mentioned the tradition of Valentine’s Day, allow me a moment here to break with tradition in these rants and make two statements that are sort of political in nature.

First, I have seen at least a dozen reports/commentaries in the last week about players on the New England Patriots who have announced that they will not go to the White House as part of the celebration of their victory in the Super Bowl.  In addition to the reports, there are “analyses” of what this might mean regarding those players’ continued affiliation with the team and speculation about how the Pats’ owner and coach feel about all of that.  Enough already…

The politics of the US in 2017 is so fractured that if Donald Duck were the President, some athlete somewhere would refuse to go visit him in the White House because that athlete was a Mickey Mouse fan.  I get it.  Everyone with an IQ equal to or higher than the speed limit on the Interstate highway system gets it.  I would like to make a plea for rationality here:

  1. If an athlete does not want to attend, he/she should feel free to do something else on that day.
  2. An athlete should not delude themselves into believing their absence is anything more than their personal choice.  Think about it; when was the last time you scrutinized one of the posed pictures where the President is holding up a jersey with his name on it to see which of the team members are present and which are not?
  3. I know there is pressure on reporters to fill space and to put content on websites, but these sorts of reports are thin gruel.

Second, while I am on my abnormal path and commenting about political matters that abut sports matters, let me anticipate an upcoming event.  For the last several years, ESPN asked President Obama to fill out a March Madness bracket and then televised the act of filling out the Presidential Bracket.  The first time they did that, it was sort of fun; the second time they did that, it was stale; after that, I could not help but wonder how it could be that the President did not have something better to do than to take the time to produce this taped event.  I understand that President Obama was a big college basketball fan and would probably have filled out a bracket for the “White House Staff Bracket Challenge” anyway.  But the televised “program” had lost its luster.


Memo to ESPN:  Please do not make any attempt to carry this “tradition” forward into the 45th Presidency.  It was a clever idea when you thought of it but it is now time to move on to something else.


Parallel Memo to President Trump:  If they call to ask you to fill out a bracket on TV, do not take the call.  You can get TV coverage almost any time you want it; you do not need this at all and the people do not need this at all.


In a column in the Miami Herald last weekend, Greg Cote reminded me that in addition to the “major sports” that attract the clear majority of media attention and fan enthusiasm, there are second tier and third tier sporting events that normally fall outside the scope of our attention.  Here are two of his short observations regarding such sports:

“BEACH VOLLEYBALL: Tour stop in Fort Lauderdale ends Sunday: The Fort Lauderdale Major, an FIVB World Tour pro event, wraps up Sunday with the women’s gold medal match. Which answers the question, ‘What? You mean beach volleyball is played more than once every four years at the Olympics?’”

And …

“GOLF: Allianz Championship wraps Sunday in Boca: Don’t call it the Senior Tour anymore, but the PGA Tour’s older division completes its event in Boca Raton today. Entering Sunday’s final round, Fred Couples started only one stroke behind four guys only their families have heard of.”

Finally, before I ponder the social dangers involved with trying to revive the traditions of the Feast of Lupercalia here in Northern Virginia this afternoon, let me close with a comment from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“A group of former cheerleaders has filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against the NFL and 26 teams, alleging that management actively conspired to underpay them and keep them from negotiating better salaries.

“The plaintiffs are reportedly seeking somewhere between two bits/four bits/six bits and 300 million dollars.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



4 thoughts on “Happy Valentine’s Day …”

  1. I am quite sure that the Lupercalian ritual does not occur in your household. If it did, the roles would be reversed.

    That said, vestiges of ancient customs live on in symbolic ways. It’s said that the red and white of St. Nicholas recalls the colors of the magic mushrooms used by pre-Christians in their winter solstice celebrations. So with Valentine’s Day, whose colors are red and brown.

    Farther down, you seem to be invoking the sacred but nonexistent Constitutional amendment regarding separation of sport and state. There is also the matter of free speech, such as athletes kneeling during the National Anthem. And considering that television and love of celebrities had such a major role in electing the current President, I see no point in advocating that the media not report on the actions of athletes as individuals. This country is in the middle of a culture war, and sports as well as politics are all part of culture. If hate speech is protected by the First Amendment, all other forms of speech must be allowed as well and subject to public awareness.

    1. Gerson:

      I agree athletes have every right to do whatever they want to do with regard to visiting the White House. I just doubt that it is important enough that each decision needs reporting or some sort of formal announcement by the athlete. If you were to invite me to your home for some sort of celebration and I decided that I just did not want to go, I would not make a public pronouncement about it. I would simply beg off…

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