Vail Daily column: That distant roar | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: That distant roar

Benjamin A. Gochberg
Valley Voices

The stadium will be completely full. Thousands upon thousands watching one of the biggest events in sports — at least here in the United States. Millions more will be joining in bars, restaurants and in their own homes. Last year, the Super Bowl had more than 100 million viewers. This year, the viewership will be as big if not bigger.

We eat wings and open up a few cold beers. We put on a jersey with someone else’s name on the back.

If you cram enough of us into a single area for the event, a room will nearly explode with every big play, bad call and missed catch.

I’ve always loved watching football, but a few weeks ago I was at dinner with a friend, and I started to have a little worry creep into my mind.

The restaurant was crowded. One of the games was on in the background. A missed catch, and a groan went up from the dinner crowd loud enough to interrupt every conversation in the place. There were several people seated around us that literally went back to eating their dinner with upset faces, cursing their Chinese food. They were actually more visibly upset than the player on the field. It was then it occurred to me: What are we giving up by living vicariously?

I mean, that is basically what we’re doing, right? We ask people what “their” team is, right? Their team?! I’m sorry … other than the Packers (and this is suspect) how many fans actually have an equity stake in their football teams? I dare to say very few.

We talk about the players like they grew up down the street from us and our moms used to invite them over for dinner on Sunday night.

If “our” teams win, we feel some weird sense of false triumph, as if the game itself were to determine whether or not portions of our population must be sacrificed to the city god of the opposing team. If they lose, some of us can’t even remain emotionally stable. There are fights breaking out after these games. None of the people fighting are typically on the teams that actually played on the field. What the … ?

So, yes, there’s a carefree and nondestructive way to watch football. In fact, I’d say that most of us fall into that particular category. Even if we are watching casually though, I think that most of us will probably admit being emotionally affected by the outcome of a game on occasion.

Most of us don’t live the rest of our lives in the way that we watch professional sports. We don’t look at our most successful acquaintances and cheer them on as if we could enjoy their wins. Maybe we should. We don’t really like being in the stands when it comes to our own lives do we? In fact, on introspection, most of us will likely realize that we are interested in getting a win also. With this in mind, I’d like to propose a new idea for us to ponder while we enjoy the Super Bowl this year:

What is your Super Bowl? When is it happening? Is it the Super Bowl that you would choose for yourself? If not, what Super Bowl would you choose to play? What does winning that game look like?

Taking that apart, when you think about the one thing that you show up for, that you want to be “on” for, and in which you desperately want to be successful, do your activities align? Most of us will recognize that a lot of the Super Bowls that we are showing up for these days are being played for other people. We are playing other people’s big games!

If you are one of the fortunate few who is preparing and training for a Super Bowl of your own choosing, I’d recommend ceasing to play other people’s big games. Now, if you’re already on someone’s team, don’t walk away from a commitment. At the very least, I think we’ve just got to be aware that the day will come when we will want to be the QB in the game of our own choosing.

And when you finally choose that game, you’ll instinctively put down the wings and the beer. You’ll suddenly stand up out of your seat in the stands and hop the gate to get on the field. Some of your friends will ask you what the hell you’re thinking. The security will let you by, because they’ve seen this all before — the universe always parts for someone with a purpose. You’ll suit up in the locker room, and your mind will be buzzing with the preparation and the plays that you have been practicing your whole life. You’ll have a few good coaches, and with you, they’ll run down the tunnel toward the field. Do you hear the din of the stadium? The noise of the crowd isn’t for a stranger this time. They’ve come to watch a good game. That distant roar at the end of the tunnel … it’s for you.

Ben Gochberg is a commercial lender and business finance consultant. He plays, lives, works and is trying to do a little good in Eagle County. He can be reached for business inquiries or free consultation at 970-471-3546.