Eric Horowitz, 2008
If you look closely, harbingers of the upcoming PBI are all around us. The air is getting crisper, JDS is planning an alumni basketball game nobody cares about, and Mr. Blank is spending less than 25% of his class time actually teaching. Yep, the 11th annual PBI is right around the corner.
Eleven years is quite a long time. Who would have thought a charity football game based on the desire to re-live elementary school dominance over younger schoolmates could have made it this far? To put the game’s longevity in perspective, when the inaugural PBI was played JDS tuition still hadn’t eclipsed the GDP of a medium-sized South Pacific island.
And now that we all feel food about the game’s storied history, it’s time to look at the cold, hard, truth. The PBI’s lavish 10-year anniversary is behind us and we must confront the monotony of year 11. Let’s face it, the 11th occurrence of anything is irrelevant. They didn’t even celebrate the state of Israel’s 11th birthday, and as I’m sure you’re all very aware, everybody, everywhere, always celebrates Israel’s birthday.
Making matters worse is the stormy financial crisis we find ourselves in. I’m, of course, referring to the infamous registration price increase which has bankrupted some of the game’s players. One anonymous veteran reportedly had to create a phony Bar Mitzvah tutoring service in order to pay for his registration. I can only imagine what those boys’ poor mothers are about to go through.
Yet despite these recent trials and tribulations, the PBI continues. Richard Wright once said in Black Boy, “Trying to please everybody, I pleased nobody,” and I think his social commentary about racism in the early part of the 20th century is relevant to the PBI. Wright learns you can’t be too concerned with other people. Sometimes it’s best to simply go forward as you wish.
This is the lesson of the 11th annual Paul Blank Invitational. The game may change from year to year, but it always does what it needs to do in order to survive. That’s why it doesn’t matter if this year there’s no giant novelty check. It doesn’t matter if the cost of the game continues to skyrocket. And it doesn’t matter if the PBI website is selling your personal information to porn spammers. All that matters is for the 11th consecutive year, we’ll be on that field.
Eric Horowitz is a regular contributor to SportsIllustrated.com. He is a eight year PBI veteran.