Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday's Musings on Sports - Fantasy, Realty and Football

Over the course of the last dozen or so years, the TV world and the United States in particular has become fascinated with the concept of reality TV. From the early days of Survivor to American Idol (or is it Idle) to the recent uptick in cooking shows such as Hell's Kitchen and Chopped, viewers can't seem to get enough of watching every day people competing with one and another.

[Personally, I believe that the rise in popularity of reality TV is a manifestation of the every man's fantasy to be famous, be it competing in an office setting or trying to perform superhuman feats of survival, but I digress].

By virtue of succeeding in these shows, the winning contestant is supposed to reap a reward which changes his life. In some shows it might be a dream job, while in others it may be a relationship or a cash prize. One of the more interesting rewards was on a cable TV show called Fourth and Long. The show challenged former college athletes to compete for a chance to be invited to the Dallas Cowboys training camp and possibly make the team. The reward was viewed largely as symbolic, since NFL training camps involve players who are: returning to their team; were drafted by their team or are free agents who were signed off another team's roster. Besides these marquee players, the teams will bring in twenty to thirty undrafted players, one or two of which will be lucky enough to make the practice squad (cue the Rudy music).

The winner of the Fourth and Long program in 2009 was Jesse Holley, who at the time was working as a security guard and selling cell phones on the side. Although Holley participated in training camp in 2009, he was cut by the Cowboys and signed to their practice squad where he remained for the season. In 2010, Holley again was one of the final cuts, but he was later signed to the active roster and was on the team for twelve games in 2010. Although Holley did not catch a pass that year, he did return one punt.

Two Sundays ago, star Cowboy received Dez Bryant was injured in a game against the NY Jets. After Bryant was declared out against the 49ers, the Cowboys added Holley to the active roster and he repaid the favor by making a 77 yard reception in overtime which set up the Cowboys' game winning score.

The fascination with "reality TV" and the way that people view and root for the common man to do something which they deep down wish they could do reminded me of a vort that I once heard about the questions which will be asked when a person finishes his time on this earth. I can't remember specifically who the Rav was who posed the question, but the vort goes something like this. When a person gets up to shamayim (heaven) he will be asked a series of questions including did you make regular time to learn Torah, were you honest in business and did you anxiously await the Moshiach. One of the questions that will not be asked is why were you not Moshe Rabbeinu. The reason is simple, we cannot be Moshe as he was a very special man who lived in a different time. But the question that we will be asked is why were you not (fill in your own name). Every person has the ability to be something special and improve the world. If we can accomplish the tasks that we are capable of doing, we will have no problem answering the question.

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