The Superbowl has just past, another title captured by the New England Patriots, the team everyone who lives outside of New England loves to hate. Football is still on a lot of people’s minds, which isn’t particularly surprising in and of itself, but apparently the fact that football is on my mind is surprising, as several times recently I’ve been asked to defend why I’m a fan.
It’s true that from the local liberal perspective there’s a lot to dislike about football: the life-threatening concussions, the recessive racial politics, the constant hype and controlled violence of the game. But like a lot of things, there’s also more to it than meets the eye.
For one, there’s the sheer mind-over-matter quality to it. Watching a football player do his job well is like watching the physical embodiment of “being in the zone,” where mind and body sync up for the perfect, seemingly effortless outcome. This is not only fun and exciting to see, it makes you feel good. And for someone like me for whom being in the zone is a relatively unusual phenomenon, I’ll take the vicarious experience of it any day.
Then there’s the total lack of inhibition to the event. Where else can you see thousands of people embrace the absurd with such confidence? The halftime show is the best example of this, with its crazy staging and overwrought special effects. Even when it’s designed to teach us something good, like the importance of loving one another (thank you, Cold Play), the message is always delivered in such a heavy-handed manner that it becomes at once hilarious, embarrassing, pitiful, and ultimately endearing in its misguided yet very human attempt to get it right.
But the real reason I love football, and all sports for that matter, is that for those two or three or four hours that the game is played absolutely nothing of any real consequence happens. Sure, one team wins while another loses, but that’s nothing when compared with, say, the idiot in the White House, the threat of global warming, or robots taking over all our jobs. In fact, for a short time when a sport is played and a fan is engaged in the game, it’s almost like these bigger issues cease to exist entirely.
Those moments of peace? For me, they’re priceless.
Just like the enduring MasterCard ad says.