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A portrait of the blood donor as Peyton Manning: If competition weren’t violent

By Graham von Carlowitz, For The Miami Student

If you've been hiding in a cave for the past few weeks, you might have missed the buildup and eventual letdown of the Super Bowl.

First, how did you find a cave? Batman? Never mind. Second, and more importantly, the letdown refers to the game, not its cherished commercials, perhaps more popular than the game itself.

Not everyone appreciates a helping of a humdrum defensive struggle, but determining which commercials really knocked viewers' footwear off, now that's worth a discussion.

The Super Bowl reels in such a diverse pool of folks and fellas because it appeals to people's innate sense of competition. I was most amused by the musical sheep. My roommate thought the Tim-Burton-esque puppy-baby was best. After a debate, I was left mentally wounded and apparently on the losing end. Commercial competition and debate are certainly not my things.

Personally, blood drives speak to me. They are my thing. Free cookies, free blood, who wouldn't love them? I am proud to report that I recently convinced my younger brother to test the bloodied waters of the blood donor world. He came home saying how easy it was and that he'd love to do it again.

And he's right, it is easy. If you meet the requirements, all that is asked of you is cooperation and a dedicated willingness to put up with a playlist composed by Sheryl Crow enthusiasts, aka Sher-crows. A piece of cake indeed.

But not when I'm around. Those are my playgrounds, stomping grounds, whatever. When my four months of donation probation are up, I rule. I am number one. My blood is redder than all others. My blood is drawn quicker than all others. In fact, I can donate twice before the average Doe-nator is finished with one donation.

I don't think blood drives would still be around if everyone had the same donating skillset. Back when I was in the fourth grade, my team tied the first game of the season. 6-6. The tie was tough to handle, especially since that was the closest we came to victory all season.

When I think about donating blood today, my father's words after that tie still ring in my head: "Well, you know what they call this, right? A tie is basically like kissing your sister." I'm not quite sure what a tie would look like in the sport of blood donating, and I don't want to know.

Blood donation as a sport defies logic, I understand. Then again, ask the alacritous commercial viewers about the sport they watched and back comes the nightmarish puppy-baby debate. Regardless of what others think, giving blood fires me up like a sport, and as such, I prepare for the event.

Orators practice speeches in the mirror, I practice responses. There I stand, picturing the sort-of-content, sort-of-pissed-off-that-she-collects-blood-for-a-living nurse ask me, "Have you ever donated?" With a slight chuckle, I say, "Well, honey, have you ever stubbed your toe? That means yes. I'm what the elites call a natural, no synthetic blood here."

The day before a blood drive is when my preparation truly kicks in. Donation Eve is all about carb loading and staying hydrated, as well as staying mentally focused. No amount of meditation is ever enough, this I learned the hard way. On the fateful day senior year of high school, I spent an hour and a half in donating purgatory - all of it in vain, pardon the pun. I squeezed my giving arm too much. I did not pass Go, I did not collect $200. My blood bag filled only halfway as my cockiness got in the way, literally clotting my vein. Twice.

This is a redemption story, of course, and blood has flowed freely from my arm ever since. While Whole Blood donations still create a sense of nostalgia, I have moved on to the Double Red Cells level and I may have a future in plasma.

The only issue is that, as a competitor, I love donating for donating, not for money; the experience is pay enough. Like athletes who sign autographs without charge, I would prefer to stay on the free side of things.

Each year the Super Bowl rakes in mounds of cash en-route to determining a winner. Blood-donating knows no money, knows no champions. It just knows veins.