It’s halftime. Pats ahead, 7-3. Brady can’t be 100%. But you still gotta believe they’ll find a way to win, right?
As I think about going to work tomorrow, I’m reminded that as I watched the 1986 Super Bowl (in which the Pats took an early 3-0 lead over the invincible Chicago Bears), I was thinking about dreaded MID-YEAR EXAMS, which were scheduled to take place the next day at Brookline High School. And I remember that I had done everything in my power to get those exams postponed on account of the Super Bowl…. and had failed. Here’s what happened.
Brookline High’s headmaster, Bob McCarthy (a great guy), had created a student government (we called it “Town Meeting”) that had real power — not just to announce pep rallies and plan school dances, but to question and influence any policy that affected students. I remember that administrators from other high schools came to BHS to learn about our student government, because they were scared to give students in their own schools so much power and they wanted to see how it could possibly work.
Anyway, after the Patriots won the AFC Championship, I decided to put the government’s power to the test by proposing to “postpone mid-year exams to a date sometime AFTER the day after the Super Bowl.” My rationale was that mid-year exams are supposed to give students a chance to show their best stuff, and that since almost all BHS students would be tuned into the Super Bowl and its pre-game and post-game shows on the afternoon and night before the exams, I and my fellow students’ performance would be affected negatively. “Why not postpone the exams one day, to Tuesday, to assure our best performance?” I proposed.
Lots of kids thought my proposal was a joke. It wasn’t, though. The Patriots had NEVER been to the Super Bowl. I wanted to enjoy it. And I wanted to do well on my mid-terms too. But those two desires were incompatible, as far as I was concerned.
Well, the proposal passed. Then Dr. McCarthy vetoed it. But that didn’t kill the bill. With a 2/3 vote, we could still override the headmaster. And can you believe it, we couldn’t muster enough votes for the override! I still marvel at the fact that there were representatives of the students – at a high school just outside Boston – who decided to make watching Super Bowl XX a stressful experience.
Of course, it wasn’t that stressful in the end. The game was decided at half-time. And I don’t remember how I performed on those mid-term exams. But just as I’ll always think of my second son’s birth whenever the AFC Championship game takes place (he was born in the second quarter of the 2002 game vs. Pittsburgh, when Drew Bledsoe replaced an injured Tom Brady to lead the Patriots to victory), I’ll always remember that failed proposal every Super Bowl Sunday.
Post-game postscript: My 8 year-old son is sitting on the floor in front our TV, a little boy in a Maroney #39 jersey, silently weeping. Plaxico Burress was one of the stars of his fantasy football team (which won, in a league of adults), but he has just proclaimed, “He’s not on my team anymore. I’m never drafting a member of the Giants again.” Little kids in Red Sox and Patriots Nation haven’t seen much of this before. Losing, that is. It hurts.