Today is Super Bowl Sunday. It means different things to different people. In the retail world it’s an opportunity to sell more product. For restaurants, it culminates a weekend of game themed food specials and events. For sports fans, it’s all about well, football.
It’s been a challenging season for the NFL, the most popular and flush professional sports organization in the United States, to say the least. From domestic violence videos of Ray Rice and his then fiancée Jenay to pictures of a bloodied child’s legs at the hands of his father, Minnesota Vikings receiver Adrian Peterson, to more intense stories regarding player safety, headlines that dominated the 2014 NFL season strayed far from the field and too much of it wasn’t good.
This week there were inordinate clicks on stories that described a grown man that acted like a 2-year-old on Super Bowl media platforms, and football inflation (not the cost of a football, but pounds per inch of air in them).
Week after week during the football season, we see men put their bodies at risk for injury, often debilitating. Off the field, issues mirror corners of society whether good or bad. Million-dollar contracts don’t prevent individuals from being a statistic among those that inflict or endure physical violence.
Unfortunately, negative stories overshadow those special ones about players that go beyond NFL-encouraged community service activities to help those in need.
In a sport that most people could not physically endure and during which we often see men flattened on the turf unable to get up, WHY do record numbers of people gather each Sunday (or Monday or Thursday and sometimes Saturday) in front of their televisions and other media to watch this brain rattling, often bone-breaking game? This week I read an interview with NBC play-by-play specialist, Al Michaels, who will call today’s game, and found the reason in one word: drama.
The National Football League provides drama that supersedes anything a “reality” show produces. Even Steven Spielberg can’t produce drama that happens in real time like it does on a football field.
We enjoy watching guys on each side of the football when they battle for yards or stop a team from gaining one more. We watch coaches use strategic game plans as if a high-stakes chess game to throw the opposing team off theirs. We watch to see if a team can come from 14 points down in a huge contest to come back to win and play another day. We watch for the stories – about how players overcame hardships in life to achieve athletic and societal magnificence. We learn about other players that push their bodies to the brink and work beyond what the rest of us will ever do in our jobs to prolong their careers. We watch to see the incredible pictures and graphics produced by hundreds of television technology magicians behind banks of TV monitors and buttons.
Today we will watch the Super Bowl to cheer our chosen good guys and jeer the others. We will shed tears of joy when confetti falls when our team wins the biggest game on earth, and tears of sadness when our team loses.
There will (hopefully) be minimal talk about milli-pounds of air in each football and unless there’s a wardrobe malfunction, no mention of how uniforms affect the outcome of the game. We will wish we were at the party in and outside of University of Phoenix Stadium and revel in the thrill of competition. Regardless of score, there will be drama. We love it. Cheer for it. And that’s why we’ll watch.