By Sue Murphy
The game is getting tense, the quarterback is poised, and over on the sidelines we see a guy frantically waving a giant sign featuring four pictures: Britney Spears, Argyle socks, a garlic press and a lesser kudu. What do these things have in common? I have no idea, but the players do. Or they’d better.
It’s a code, I’m guessing, each card signaling what coaches hope will be a game-saving play. It’s a fascinating tactic. For starters, I’d love to know exactly how they settle on all those images. “Let’s see … run up the middle … a scarlet merganser. What else? And how shall we cloak our signal bird? With a paper clip, a three of clubs and an early spring pin oak.”
So, the coaching staff meticulously chooses the pictures (I’ll bet it was a long night.) and somebody prints up a pile of 11×13 glossies. There’s a frantic rush to the Elmer’s Glue and all that is left is to impart this brilliant code to the players. “Men, when you see a picture of Britney Spears, fake left.” Or maybe the code has something to do with the first letter of each picture. The aforementioned Britney/Argyle/garlic press/ lesser kudu play would mean Back And Go Long, unless it means Scramble, Screen play, Pass and Kick. The options boggle the mind.
So much can go wrong with this system. Suppose a player is sick on animal day and when crunch time comes, mistakes the lesser kudu for the greater one. Disaster! The signs are a cultural literacy minefield. Some players might be country music fans and have no idea who Britney Spears is. (Sorry, Britney.) Even the burly linemen would have to be up on fashion trends (Are those jeans slim leg or boot cut?) and have some rudimentary culinary knowledge or they’d think the garlic press was a cheese grater and go charging down the field in the wrong direction.
Maybe I’m over-thinking this. Maybe the Britney Spears poster is there just to get the guys’ attention and the message is in the rest of the pictures. Of course – and I don’t mean to sound cynical here – it’s always possible Britney has simply purchased some stadium-savvy advertising space to announce her new show in Las Vegas. If this is the direction we’re headed, can a Doritos/Geico/BVD/ Chico’s Bail Bond play be far behind?
Or maybe the signs mean nothing at all. Maybe the play is really G4 or H 27 and the assistant is just goofing on gullible fans like me. If so, well played.
I suppose if I really paid attention I could figure out the system, counting cards, as it were, but my game minutes already are divided among completing the cheers as instructed, singing along appropriately with the team-rousing snippets from the marching band and being ready to stand when it’s my turn to advance the wave. Since I cannot punt, pass or kick, it’s all I have to contribute to my team’s success.
Still, the sign puzzle is a challenge. If I could figure out the code, it might help me manage other areas of my life. Every day, it seems I’m confronted with a hundred different images simultaneously, and it’s difficult to decipher what it all means, what’s important and what is just distracting fluff. I know the answer is in there somewhere, but I’m never sure whether I’m supposed to follow the socks or the garlic press.
Until I get some more input, I’ve decided to go with the lesser kudu. I think he’s great.