Rodgers mania

Was Chico’s response just a little, well, over the top?

Chico was a fun place to be last weekend, when we all became caught up in a wave of shared exhilaration as we watched Aaron Rodgers lead his team to victory in the Super Bowl.

What goes up must come down, though, and afterward, feeling a little hung over from the excitement, I got to wondering about the nature of fandom. Why do we feel so strongly about a player just because he comes from our town? Why do we root for his team over another? Because we like to take sides? Because identification with a winning team makes us feel superior?

Not to take anything away from Rodgers. He’s a superb athlete who represents his hometown with dignity, intelligence and humility. Maybe that’s why we root for him, because he embodies the values we hold dear. If it takes a village to raise a child, then we’re proud to be his village.

Still, I wonder: Was Chico’s response, its Rodgers mania, just a little over the top? You couldn’t open a newspaper (including this one) or turn on the local TV news without seeing Aaron Rodgers.

The most insightful and mature account of Rodgers mania I’ve read was written, interestingly, by Nick Meeder, the teenage sports editor of the student newspaper, The Saga, at Rodgers’ alma mater, Pleasant Valley High School.

In the Feb. 4 issue of the paper, Nick writes, “This community should be proud to have produced a talent such as [Rodgers], but that doesn’t warrant the craziness that we have experienced. Aaron Rodgers’ accomplishments can only be attributed to his talent and hard work and could have flourished in another supportive home community.”

Good point.

Another question: Why do we make stars out of student athletes but fail to honor student intellectual achievement? I ask because, as it happens, the winners of the Butte County Academic Decathlon—a rigorous competition—were announced Saturday, the day before the Super Bowl.

This year, Pleasant Valley High School took home the honors. Congratulations, team. As much as we admire our athletic heroes, you’re the ones who hold the future in your hands.

Don’t Believe Everything You Read Dept.: I was rightly chided following my item last week about the meeting of progressive activists at the Chico library. (See “More about the meeting,” Letters.) As several of them told me, they had arranged to use the library meeting room over the phone and never saw a contract form stating that all meetings must be open to the public. I’d trusted E-R reporter Roger Aylworth because he’s fastidious, but his account of the incident made it appear they had seen the contract when, in fact, they hadn’t. I apologize for the error.

I continue, however, to think the group should have invited Mary Kennedy to stay for the meeting, even if she was “a spy for Larry Wahl,” as one member put it to me. They had nothing to hide, and they might have helped Kennedy understand their concerns about air pollution.