Rooting for the best team |

Rooting for the best team

Alan Braunholtz
Vail, Colorado CO

Super Bowl Sunday is a true national event. Not global, though. For that you have to watch football that is actually played with the feet and The World Cup. The countrywide nature of the Super Bowl illustrates one of the reasons we like sports so much. For a few hours a huge number of us will be linked through a game. Strange to think of so many people reacting to the same play in bars all over the country. This communal nature has the ability to break down barriers. The history of race in U.S. sports is a great example of this. Perhaps that’s why we value good sportsmanship so much. Without it we undermine one of our great bring-togethers.

In a world where we’re increasingly separated, the chance to be part of a group, tribe or mob isn’t to be sneezed at. It’s quite a powerful feeling (dangerously so at times if you’ve been to the wrong soccer game in Europe,) well worth the price of admission to a stadium unless you’ve paid extra to separate yourself from the massed energy by sitting in a luxury box.

Sport provides us something easy to care about and fans do care. They are mind-boggling depositories of statistics and other trivia. Anyone can and does have an opinion and no one holds back from questioning authority. The coach, the owner, the star player, no matter their expertise all are taken to task by a critical public. Pity we aren’t this knowledgeable and concerned about the details of our public policy decisions. Sport doesn’t really affect our lives, but policy decisions will.

Games are fun to play and watch, though. There’s action and a definite resolution ” someone wins and someone loses. It’s black and white, unlike real life. Also no one knows who is going to win. Uncertainty is always a bit of a thrill and after the mob bonding, worth the rest of the ticket price. The NFL playoffs ” a series of knock-out matches ” with their “on any given day uncertainty” are much more exciting than a NBA or baseball series, unless it goes to a seventh game.

Winning is fun, but the road to it is a lot more interesting. Sports are a never-ending soap opera for men with each episode leaving the viewer hanging. Even the series climax of say, the Super Bowl, provides only an ephemeral pause before thoughts turn to the next season. News of trades, off-field antics, who is saying what about whom etc., all add to the drama and carefully created myths that feed the sports reality show.

In some ways this background drama attracts us more than the actual on-field antics. Crux passes, timely sacks, spectacular catches are common to any football game. What makes it interesting are the questions “can Peyton Manning win the big one or is he destined to be the tragic figure of Dan Marino?” “Is this Bears defense as good as the ’85 one?” etc.

Grudges always sell well. In the AFC playoffs, the press and Baltimore made much of the Colts sneaky departure from Baltimore eons ago with Indianapolis stealing the name and proud heritage of the Colts. Grudges typically achieve nothing, but are a lot of fun and the town of Baltimore had a blast with this one. After the match, a victorious Manning said all the right and nice stuff, but I wish he’d thrown some fuel on the fire. If he wins the Super Bowl I hope he says it’s great to be in the company of old famous Colts like Johnny Unitas and that he’s proud of keeping the Colts reputation going. That should nudge the grudge along.

Bears versus the Colts ” who do I want to win? Root for Manning to put his “can’t win the big one” critics behind him?Or for the Bears because a friend cares way too much? Shouldn’t feel that sorry for Manning because he’s got a lot more than most. Also shouldn’t feel that bad, because a friend is a friend.

Whose life will be more affected? Neither significantly, drunken beer bottles ricocheting off the TV notwithstanding.

I guess I want the best on the day (and not the luckiest on the day) team to win.

Alan Braunholtz of Vail writes a weekly column for the Daily.

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