Truth in advertising: I do not watch football, collegiate or professional. One reason is that I seldom can tell where the little ball is or why lots of large men are falling all over each other. For years, I’ve secretly suspected that the game was made up as a way for men to hug and come into intimate physical contact without any fear of being called “sissies” or “fairies.” So when my home town of Minneapolis was chosen as host for this year’s big event, I was singularly uninterested. As the date approached, I heard on local news channels about all sorts of closings of roads down town. I also was outraged when the city ruled that no one could ride the mass transit trains the weekend of the game unless they had a ticket. Then I was informed that some 2,200 private airplanes were arriving and had to be parked somewhere while their affluent owners watched the two teams vie for the trophy.
I kept not caring who won until a couple of days before the game, I heard Tom Brady, the quarterback for the Patriots, say about playing in the Super Bowl, something like “It’s just a game, like the others.” Surely that is not true for the men who are willing to risk brain injury to get to the Super Bowl nor for the millions of people who are fixated either on the actual playing of the game or the mania that can surround the event. The more I reflected about his comment, the clearer I became that it was an expression of entitlement–it was as if he believes his team “deserves” to win before anyone has thrown the pigskin or run the field to an end zone. And watching the expressions on the Patriot’s head coach’s face just made me want to cringe for the players who were in the line of his angry reactions to the slightest misstep on their parts. So I began to say maybe I would like the Eagles to win.
Though I didn’t watch much of the play, I did keep switching to it when my PBS program ended or a rerun on ion television went to an ad. So I knew the Eagles were playing strong football. Once we were near the end, when my skipping to the game showed me that the Patriots had managed to squeeze ahead, I decided to watch, lending my albeit tangential support to the men from Philadelphia who clearly wanted to win and did NOT see it as an entitlement they held by virtue of the name of their team. The whole thing began to mirror all the other arenas currently in which one faction of the population sees itself as possessing some kind of supremacy over the rest of us, by virtue of arbitrary factors over which no one has much control. Then Mr. Nick Foles did it! He led his team to a stunning victory and I felt good.
Today, Tuesday, all the private planes have flown back to where they came from, the management of the facility has reported several stolen seats pried loose by fan-atics, and the structures on our downtown mall are being disassembled. I also heard Torrey Smith, one of the Eagles’ players, say on CNN why he and several of his colleagues will not be going to the White House at the president’s invitation. His reasoning is basic and powerful: he doesn’t think the man occupying that building is a “good man,” as was Mr. Obama, in his opinion. So there’s yet another reason for me to like the large men in dark green uniforms emblazoned with a striking profile of my country’s emblematic bird.