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Sunday Letters – The Super Bowl



Dear Super Bowl,

Is this what it’s come to? Are we merely subjects in the shadows of your grandeur? Do you just wait for us to bow to the supposed significance of your game as defined by proportion? Are we, the American public, merely pawns in Fox’s and the NFL’s intermittent game of “who wants to be a (multi) millionaire (and possibly billionaire)”?

I propose that we are not and should not be, but I’m just some renegade blogger spewing rhetoric about the poetry of Doug Gottlieb’s Steve Nash-ness in college and asserting my inane theories about why making more than two runs in the second halves of basketball games is less easy than liberating the country of North Korea

Wow, I didn’t know I was going to call on Mr. Jong-Il to help make my point but, you see, this is what you do to me.

For the last fifteen years I’ve been trying to figure out what it is about you and your week (now two weeks) that makes me not want to love or care about sports anymore. I’m not sure I’ve arrived at a conclusion but I’m getting closer.

For starters, you represent everything that the art of sport and the culture it enables are decidedly not. To me, these games are best, and most wholeheartedly, played in back alleys and playgrounds, and open fields. Yes, your night offers up the most prolific stage in the world upon which people can perform, and that’s just the point. People on stages are called actors and what they do, while real, isn’t real life.

Real life is most decidedly captured in a pickup game between ten friends that ends in fisticuffs or a seven on seven affair perpetuated by recapitulated cries of “next score wins”, only to be ended by darkness or near-catastrophic injury. And because these are the most natural and captivating of all human competitions, we spend most of our adult lives trying to find the organized athletic event that is most similar.

Yours is not it.

We look for synonymity to our boyhood ballads in professional basketball and the big leagues and so many other places and continuously come up short. We find it in the World Cup and the Olympics, but those only roll through once every 1,500 days. So we turn to college athletics, because they offer the purest potion of performance and unadulterated innocence.

We aren’t blithe to the underbelly of this industry, mind you, but we choose to believe because, after all, something like the purest form of sport I mentioned earlier must exist. Otherwise, what’s the point?

The other night thousands of us followed online as BYU soiled San Diego State’s quest for perfection, all of us wrapping ourselves in the warm blanket of Jimmer-mania. We did this because the game wasn’t televised by a prominent channel and most of us are devoid of the super-duper satellite package necessary for such viewership.

But we did it too because it was a moment.

We did it because we follow sports for a singular reason — that once, in all the thousands of hours of games we watch, just once, we might encounter a moment that isn’t about money or self-exultation or even the achievement of personal milestones. While our American sports probably hinge upon (and are driven by) such things, instead we look for isolated moments of gripping competition that pit man vs. man in stunning nakedness. We look for these moments because they remind us that some people don’t play games to win but rather to experience those euphoric few seconds or (if we’re lucky) minutes of singular expression. In those brief instances, man can say “this is who I am, this is what I’m all about.”

Your competition pretends to offer this but instead shrouds the possibility of these moments occurring in hoopla and manufactured intensity. It’s most nearly impossible for those playing in your game to reveal who they are in these moments.

I’ll watch I guess.

But I won’t learn anything I didn’t already know.

– Pistols Guy

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