Full disclosure: As an Indiana native, I was rooting for the Indianapolis Colts to win Super Bowl XLIV. No such luck. Congratulations to the New Orleans Saints for outplaying a tough team, and for a well-earned victory. The Saints wanted it more, and that couldn't have been any more evident on the field.
They wanted it more, because New Orleans is still suffering, still waiting for help, four years after the destruction wrought by hurricane Katrina. To that end, much of the pre-game coverage on CBS was devoted to the idea that New Orleans residents needed this victory, this validation, a "morale" victory, to help in the healing process.
One man, a resident still without a home--featured as part of a discussion on the ongoing problems facing New Orleans--could barely get the words "we need help" out, even as the tears and the obvious desperation on his face sent the same message.
The Saints were a trending topic on Twitter for much of the day, with people all over the country rooting for a team that, they reasoned, "needed" the win more than the other guys.
Sadly, much of this national support rings depressingly hollow.
All of the Facebook updates, all of the tweets, all of the "WHO DAT!" chants from people who suddenly found a reason to root for New Orleans due, in part, to not having a local dog in the fight, would be incredibly inspiring, if the past four years indicated that it were going to last.
Local fans have every right to be ecstatic, and one hopes they're still partying down in the French Quarter, using this victory as a means to leave their troubles behind, if only for a while. Celebrations and publicity can only stand to bring money into a city badly in need of funds. That's a good thing.
But what about tomorrow?
Much like a college house party, those who call somewhere else home will wake up, drunk or hungover, and stumble away from a mess they have the luxury of leaving behind. The cleanup will be left for "someone else" because, well, why not? "I don't live there."
What New Orleans "needs" is for people to care more than once a year. New Orleans needs real help, lasting help, help that isn't based on an opportunity to party. New Orleans residents need people to see their city as something more than that, more than a chance to see drunk women flash their breasts for cheap plastic beads. New Orleans needs people to understand and care that there's a rich cultural heritage that extends beyond the Super Bowl, and yes, even beyond Mardi Gras.
Really? As popular as it may be to smugly remind everyone that George W. Bush bumbled the immediate response to New Orleans after hurricane Katrina, does anyone outside New Orleans have much room to talk, or to cast aspersions on the way others have responded to a city still in crisis four years after the government failed to respond?
I know I don't. I certainly haven't done much, if anything.
But then, I didn't act like I cared for a few days, when caring was once again fashionable, even as I ignored a horrible reality on the other 360 days of the year.