One ball to rule them all

One would think that with less than a week before the Super Bowl, we might finally be able to talk about the role that football plays in our lives.

But we won’t.

Instead we will discuss and debate the effects and authenticity of “catfishing,” Ray Lewis’s influence on the game (and our legal system) and, not to mention, those Super Bowl commercials.

While there might be some idle chatter by the water cooler about concussions or recent front-office moves, the full breadth of influence that football has and should have over us will go unnoticed by many.

Granted, with 30 teams having failed in reaching this point, a large number of their individual fan bases might find themselves feeling somewhat disenfranchised with the outcome of Super Bowl XLVII.

As a New York Jets fan, I can understand the depths of their despair.

If football has taught us anything, it’s that there is always next season. Through hard work and a devotion to craft, we might one day celebrate like kings. Until that time, we need to give credit where it is due.

I can’t help but feel that our debt has largely gone unpaid.

We have allowed ourselves to be distracted by surface level and elementary intricacies of the game brought on by yet another “losing season,” but mainly by an overwhelming apathy at appreciating the greatest sport on Earth.

The emotional and psychological ripples that are caused when two modern day warriors of the gridiron physically and brutally collide cannot be understated. Dreams are both simultaneously made and dashed as third downs are converted, as acrobatic catches are made or when breathtaking runs seem to defy physics.

This is the sport the gods intended us to play, and it’s high time we start recognizing this.

There are of course some who say we focus too much already on sports and their athletes. There are those who say we shouldn’t create role models for children from NFL rosters.

To every non-football aficionado out there, I beseech thee: Who is more deserving of our undying love and appreciation than those who risk so much for us just so we don’t look like fools for wearing authentically replicated jerseys baring their name or insignia?

For those of you who continue to challenge the indisputable laws of natural selection by maintaining allegiances to baseball and basketball — even hockey — need to realize the error of your ways. It is false idolatry, and it should be treated as such.

If you’re having trouble picking a team or frustrated with the one you have, worry not: There are plenty to choose from. Some might be persuaded by color combinations, others might be moved by a mascot or a team’s legacy. In any event, there’s a team for you.

With the NFL already considering an expansion team in London or maybe even Toronto, perhaps the conversation should be shifted to how best football of the American variety can help the International Olympic Committee achieve its own goals.

Soccer and rugby have failed in their efforts to unite the world, but there is still hope.

While just a game, the stories and lessons contained both on and off the field transform this sport into something more than just a pastime. This isn’t “fantasy.” This is our future.

 

Reach the columnist at jbfortne@asu.edu or follow him at @JOMOFO40

 

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