It’s taken us a few days to recover from the heartbreak of that last play in the Super Bowl. But now that we’ve recovered from the shock, we are happily reliving all that came before – the excitement, the intense anticipation, and the incredible upwelling of community unity in support of our beloved team.
We’ve heard plenty about everything that’s wrong with professional football: the billionaire owners made richer yet, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s knuckleheaded response to domestic violence, and the horrible effects of head injuries just start the list. There’s also the way football sucks up resources that could support women’s sports, or less dangerous sports, and the way football dominates the culture of our high schools at the expense, sometimes, of a more serious focus on academics.
To all of that, we say, Go Seahawks! Start getting ready for next year’s Super Bowl.
For a few days at least, all that serious, relevant, and righteous criticism has paled in comparison to the euphoria of having our team go to the Super Bowl, even if they didn’t win.
There is an amazing and wonderful upside to what football can do for all of us – even those of us who never spent a dime on scarves, hats, baby blankets, shirts, flags, dog sweaters, rings, or any other visible investments in the Legion of Boom.
The magic of the season was that people who don’t read the sports section and barely comprehend the rules of football couldn’t help but catch the fever. For the last few weeks, the Seahawks united us across all lines of class, race, religion, age and education. People who might never talk to each other on any other topic talked football.
Who could resist the fun of the call-and-response chanting in the produce department at the grocery store, the week of game day menu discussion, or the puns about the “Deflatriots”? It was like 10 Christmases rolled into a single, secular holiday.
And it wasn’t entirely frivolous. In the run up to the big game, the private lives of every star player were put under the microscope to determine who was a worthy role model, who was a jerk, and who was being treated unfairly by the media. Thus, football became a cultural mirror and a focus for a national discussion about what traits and values we admire, what we condemn, and what we really need to work on. A lot of the issues that bedevil us – from racism to income inequality to labor relations – got a good workout.
That’s a lot of mental exercise and cultural advancement, even without taking into account the commercials and the half-time show, which are, of course, worthy of their own half-gallon of ink and week of post-game analysis.
The point, simply is this: For the better part of this football season, we felt and experienced a rare sense of common purpose, a wonderful lighthearted run of joy and hope, and a vicarious conviction that we are all winners. All that was priceless, and we end this season looking forward to the next.