It’s Super Bowl weekend but as a NY Giants fan I am ambivalent. But I’m going to do my best to override my indifference and cheer for the Niners. Let me explain.
I’m well aware that rooting for a team is basically rooting for a uniform. Over the years the players come and go while general managers and coaches play musical chairs. The only constant is the colors. And even those get updated permanently or color-rushed temporarily. Comedian Greg Giraldo used to joke that fandom was the opiate of the masses. It was a tool to keep a person distracted from the fact that they live in Cleveland.
As expected, hipsters would adopt this view. The “sportsball” attitude (life tip: Urban Dictionary is your friend if you don’t know a reference) uses a tinge of truth to supply justification to this contrarian-for-the-sake-of-it crowd. A few weeks ago when I asked a bartender to change the channel to the Patriots playoff game, he said he didn’t even know what sport that was. Pinch me but are people using willful ignorance to signal enlightenment now? (Insert “blinking white guy” gif)
The irony of his elitist irony is that it’s faux-intellectual. It’s a clumsy violation of lindy wisdom. The dismissal of sport and competition as unimportant is a buzzkill that defies centuries of human experience. I remember exactly where I was in 1990 when LT stripped Roger Craig in the NFC Championship game leading to Matt Bahr’s game-winning field goal. Weeks later I remember jumping in euphoria in a friend’s basement and scratching my suddenly bloodied knuckles on the ceiling when Scott Norwood’s kick sailed wide right. The emotion in those seconds encodes those memories forever. And we become lifelong fans. From childhood.
The highs and lows in sports mirrors life itself. And that’s fun. I can’t explain it but I know this. My 6 yr old likes flag football. He recently got the hang of throwing a spiral and wants to play catch constantly. And he was born in San Francisco. That city’s team is playing for a ring today. This could be the start of his lifelong affection. I’m all for magic we can’t explain.
As you all prepare for the game today, I’ll leave you with a 20-year-old movie clip I’ve watched a hundred times. (Link)
If you are wondering what the awesome guitar instrumental that builds in the background, it’s Peace by Paul Kelly. You’re welcome.