By Brenda Black
Oh, for the love of football. I've seen people weep over wins and losses. Heard of people losing thousands of dollars on risky bets. Folks will sit and scream at a 42-inch screen or suffer through blizzards to cheer their teams. What's the hold this sport wields over millions? Surely there's some sensible reason.
Columnist Andy Rooney once asked, “How could any normal, reasonably intelligent human being be sad or wildly happy over the outcome of a football game between two professional football teams?”
He concluded at the close of his 1986 syndicated article, “If I can be made happy by a victory by a team of strangers because they wear blue uniforms instead of red and represent New York instead of Washington, why should I bother to work for real success?
“I have a heart, the poet Robert Browning would have said, 'too soon made glad.'”
Is there nothing more lasting or personally pertinent from which we can enjoy such delight? Are there not more significant tragedies other than the loss of a game that should grieve us so deeply?
Sure there are! Still, the game itself is symbolic of such things in life and often helps us to stay emotionally alert so we are practiced up for feeling.
On the field it looks like uninhibited joy over simply crossing a little white chalk line. Such a feat will make a man dance like a fool. Ever celebrated the birth of a child? The victory dance looks similar for some daddies.
On the sidelines it looks like great sorrow when grown men bow their heads and drop tears as well as helmets as the clock ticks down to one more year without a title. Ever stood in an airport telling the love of your life goodbye and dreading the last call to board? Both the loss and the loneliness feel like a kick in the gut.
You see, football is about feeling. It's feeling hopeful when the season starts. Feeling confident in players you've never met, but trust more than your own Grandma Betsy. It's feeling shame and pride. The coaches, the team, the fans, the critics – they're all a community where football fanatics feel they fit.
“Upon further review,” it just makes sense to get excited, depressed, thrilled, defeated, grateful, broken, elated and deflated. As humans and football fans, we are made to feel. Besides, football is a good excuse for a man to cry and woman to rail and get away with it! Better in front of the big screen than on the freeway.