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.
I’ll never forget the memory of watching 4 consecutive Buffalo Bills Superbowl appearances end in a loss.. I’ve never been a Giants fan since the first loss. (We would have gotten a pizza party the next day at school with a win.. talk about painful losses.)
I’m definitely not today, but I’m still the same stage-2 fan I was back then. Die hard, and vulnerable to the bitter end.
Always love your site.
I enjoyed reliving our experience of trying to put off exams. It was a fun fight. I also remember that the year before, with exams on Monday after the Super Bowl, that the Headmaster said that he would move them if the Pats were in it … confronted with that statement a year later, he contacted the Pats who released a statement that they wanted us to take our exams …
Great site. You just shed 1 positive light on why it’s good for Boston sports fans to have experienced the Pats loss to the Giants — young kids in Boston have never really experienced losing / disappointment, short of the Sox 2003 debacle. In the long run, this loss will serve these kids well in ways they could not imagine. Life has its moments of disappointment, and we have to learn to rise again. Further, when you do rise again (and win), being on top is that much sweeter due to your understanding of loss!
Matt beat me to the punch. The sucker-punch, that is, of Superbowl XXV, in which the Bills came **this close** to beating the Giants – a team I have disliked ever since that fateful day. I read an SI article about Scott Norwood years later; he’s an insurance salesman somewhere down south and still can’t escape the ghosts of that missed kick.
This is why we love sports. Our reactions are visceral and long-lasting. I can’t remember which boy I loved in 1991, but I can’t forget the team I loved that broke my heart…which I still love, despite the pain it caused me…and continues to cause me…
You know…I just can’t believe they didn’t win. It was inevitable that they would win that game. I still feel it was inevitable.
8 days ’til pitchers and catchers report. Go Sox.
The night before the Super Bowl, my 7 year old daughter said, “I’m scared about the Super Bowl. If the Patriots lose, I’m afraid I’ll cry.”
Well, she went to bed at halftime, but the next morning I found her in bed sniffling. I asked what was wrong. She said, “I just heard that the Patriots lost and I came back to bed so no one would see me crying.”
These kids are spoiled! (isn’t that awesome!! :-) )