When a friend and loyal email correspondent of ours wrote last night a missive bearing the subject header “Two vexing facts about the NFL draft bash,” we gritted our teeth and clicked it open anyway. This would seem to be the predominant gesture of most people living in the Center City area right now, even those who (God help them) can still bring themselves to find joy in whatever it is that the NFL does these days. (“Press 1 for concussions; press 2 for enabling domestic abusers; press 3 for being a simultaneously perfect and awful place to express cogent opinions about race relations in America.”)
At any rate, the email had the tenor of a person moved to punch out his news the second he got in the door. Our correspondent, you see, had just been by one of the staging areas for the Draft, near the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and had run into some acquaintances directly affected by the event’s brusque, as-presumptuous-as-the-NFL-really-is pushing aside of whatever in the city could be in its way for the next few days.
His acquaintances, he wrote, had found out two things today: “Yes, the ‘iconic Rocky Steps’ have actually been completely obscured by the mammoth superstructure assembled at the end of the Ben Franklin Parkway. Not to worry, they’ve built a copy of the steps inside said structure.” (We didn’t know whether that last part is in fact the case, and if you want to know the truth, we’re afraid to look.)
The other piece of information gleaned struck as nearly cinematic, an almost Wag The Dog-esque scenario that seemed to be laughing ruefully right at us: “The nearby Perelman Building annex of the Art Museum has arranged an inclement weather seating area for 700 (that’s seven hundred) journalists.” It let our friend to an equally disheartening reflection. “That’s 700 reporters who won’t be digging deep for the truth about Trump and Russia or 37 other things threatening to end the experiment that started in this city 240 years ago. They will instead write and film and yak about the megabucks human trafficking of athletes, recruited to play a sport that will be outlawed for medical reasons within a decade.”
Upon reading this, a sigh was heard. (Was that you?)
But there it is. You’ll forgive us for saying it, and remind us that this is the case with everything for us, but here it is: The whole thing reminded us of high school. We, as a city — to say nothing of those who live and work anywhere in the Draft’s direct path — are being dragged to the pep rally. Music period, Art Appreciation and Independent Study have been pre-empted because of The Big Game. And while it is going on, we will sit on the bleechers, let it roll by, and generally think of Nothing.