Regular readers, friends, and family know I am not much of a football fan. My game is baseball. I adore watching all levels, from community kids playing Babe Ruth to serious young women throwing heat (underhand!) in college softball to the terrific Apple Sox of the college league to the majors. As I write this, I’m gazing at the Seattle Times photo of a smiling Ken Griffey Jr. at the end of his farewell season in 2010. But today’s “big game” is the Super Bowl (insert pun regarding the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado here), and it seems our whole state has been painted Seahawk blue and green. So I’ll use it as a canvas for some thoughts on sport.
For me, the true beauty of sport comes from the fact that it is only a game. I know today many of my friends and neighbors will feel their hearts pound, will weep and yell and cheer, will send entreaties to the universe for “our” team to win. This is the loveliness of sport, in that it gives us a canvas to paint our hopes and aspirations on, and makes us feel like we are a team, a community, pulling together. Real issues, with significant meaning, tend to divide us (well, so do petty issues, with insignificant meaning, we being humans). Sport brings us together.
We also get the privilege of watching talented athletes perform at their peak. There is a profound beauty in their abilities. But the reason more people watch the Super Bowl than watch equally amazing feats of individual athleticism at, say, the upcoming winter Olympics is, I think, because team sports encourage us to think we’re all team members. And in an important way, we are.
The dark side of professional sports is well known. And one thing that makes me squeamish about loving football is the amount of violence on the field. But for today, let’s focus on the best of the experience. The excruciating pleasure of watching each possession and turnover. The sublime joy of sweating out a final period in a close game. Let’s cheer on the athletes because, after all, it’s only a game.