Sports culture exemplified in the Super Bowl and Literature

marieedited

Graphic by Noemi Gonzalez.

I am a self-proclaimed basketball dream, and football isn’t my favorite sport. Thus, my excitement for the Super Bowl is mostly geared toward the halftime performance and the gluttonous amounts of food. I pay attention to the last 10 minutes of the game most years.

This year was a bit different, since it wasn’t such a close game. Sorry Denver fans.

I will admit, there is a wholesomeness and deeply cultural quality attributed to football that my beloved basketball can’t match. H.G. Bissinger’s “Friday Night Lights” captures this love of football and fits the essence of the Super Bowl.

 

 

Football permeates the entire culture of Odessa, Texas, where the novel takes place. This town, despite any possible successes through oil and other resources, supports their high school football team and takes each game to heart. Losses are tough, and the football players are treated like gods.

On the other hand, the story of Michael Oher in “The Blind Side” by Michael Lewis, grounds a player of this sport. Oher, while later becoming a member of the NFL, did not live the life of gods. He was born into brokenness and found shelter later in the Touhy Family. The story combines humanity with the nominal aspects of the sport. It is as technical as it is heart wrenching.

Lewis’ story oftentimes reminds me of David Halberstam’s story of Michael Jordan in “Playing for Keeps.” Michael Jordan seemed to be a mythical creature on the basketball court. I grew up watching Jordan, and his close partner Scotty Pippin, with my dad. While joining the NBA ranks is not easy, Jordan seemed destined to play the game.

During this 2014 Super Bowl, it seemed as though all eyes were on Peyton Manning, destiny’s choice to play football, at this moment with the Denver Broncos. The Super Bowl inspires many people around the nation to chase after that destiny, whether in sports or other enterprises.

For Stephanie, in Lorri Hewett’s “Dancer,” becoming a professional ballerina is the goal. With little to no support, she attempts to navigate high school and maintain determination. When I read this book in high school, I was deeply inspired to work hard to achieve my future goals. I was taught to chase after it despite the naysayers.

And the Super Bowl could not achieve this level of inspiration without its use of images. I always admire (and, honestly sometimes chastise) how much money goes into the NFL and its media. It truly is a work of art, from the stage engineering of the half-time show, to the pre-game montages. Wilfred Santiago’s “21: The Story of Roberto Clemente” also emphasizes the visual aspect of sports. Unlike the others, Santiago’s work is a visual novel, filled to the brim with beautiful illustrations. It outlines some of the major highlights of Clemente’s life, especially as a professional baseball player.

Sports inspire and resonate with beauty. The Super Bowl is just one simple reminder of this. So, as you eat some leftover celebration snacks, consider picking up some sports literature.

You can reach the writer at arabusa@asu.edu or on Twitter @marie_eo.