I confess, I'm a fan of football, maybe even a fanatic, the derivation of the slightly less connotative word. First is comes the NFL. I actually become depressed when the season ends. Next come college games, where I don't care so much who wins but I watch anyway. I've even been known to watch arena football and other crazy offshoots. This has gone on for years, and lately I've noticed some interesting things.

These days I enjoy games where I don't really care who wins. Where once it was the joy of rooting for "my" team, now it's just the calming effect of the sights and sounds of the game: whistles, shouts, droning play-by-play folk, and the odd ballet of offense versus defense. Within moments of the end of most games I've forgotten who won, but I recall moments of brilliance when someone caught an impossible catch, made a 90-plus yard punt return, or broke through a seemingly impenetrable wall of defensemen.

Another thing I notice is that who plays for whom doesn't matter so much to me any more. With salary caps and trades, I see no sense in getting excited when a favorite player moves to another team. Example: Brett Favre. I loved him in Green Bay, but he retired, and I thought, "Good for you, guy. Leaving at the top of your game is a cool thing." Then he came back, was rejected at GB, and went to the Jets. He's doing well there, but somehow he doesn't matter to me now. I'm glad if that's what he wants from life, but that's all.

Last, I notice that the coaches all seem to me too young to be coaching. Why is Jim Zorn not on the field, doing what he did so well? How about Mike Singletary? I guess it's my age, but they can't be past their prime. Well, okay, maybe it has been a decade. I forget.

What does this have to do with writing? Well, after reading mysteries for, um, a long time, some of the same things apply. It's not so much the result as it is the ballet in reading, too. I notice HOW the author does what he does more than anything else. I don't follow the superstar authors as much as I used to, but instead enjoy anyone who is successful at the craft. As for age, writing is better than football, because we aren't worn out at forty. I for one intend to be in the game for decades. I'll get to work right after the games on Sunday.

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