I realized that I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about the things that I find important. But in my rush to enumerate the reasons behind my praise of certain things I forgot that one of the most important things in my life has yet to be mentioned in this space. This is odd considering the fact that during this time of year, it’s all I think about.
If you were to open a new tab on my web browser (Google Chrome) you’d learn something about me very quickly, based on my most visited sites. I love football (and apparently email and humor websites). I think the reason I don’t write about football often is because this isn’t a sports blog and because I don’t know that I could say anything about this great sport that hasn’t already been said. We all know that it’s God’s favorite sport (I would put a link there but I actually have no internet source to back that statement up) and it’s America’s true Favorite Pastime (again, no corroborating evidence). It’s just a great thing to do. And I don’t know how I came to love football so much but I do remember the year it gained its current level of importance in my life.
You could say I was a bit of a bandwagon-er in high school and you wouldn’t be wrong. After the Patriots won their 3rd-in-4-years Superbowl in the 2004 season I was hooked. I was just finally starting to understand the game and I wanted to root for my own team (my dad is a Giants fan, as are most people in my hometown). I chose New England. The first few years were “hard”. We didn’t make it back to the big game but we had a few playoff appearances which were cool. Finally, in the 2007 season, we did something amazing. We went the whole season without losing a game and we made it through the playoffs to face my dad’s favorite team. The house was divided that night.
Most sports fans have a ritual and I was no different. Mine was to NOT watch Patriots games. Seriously. I’d watch other teams play, but I couldn’t watch the Pats. It seemed to be working for the whole season until I thought, superstitions are silly Danielle. They won’t win or lose just because you watch. So the night of the big game I went through the first half without watching and then finally turned on the television. You may know what happened next. We lost that game. But another thing happened that was worse than any football game loss.
My dad got a call that night from the hospital. I picked up the phone when he did but he didn’t know I was on the line and I listened in. My grandmother had fallen down and she was suffering from a head wound. I knew what that meant. She was in her late 70s, already suffering from Dementia and she wouldn’t be able to survive a fall like that. I put down the phone and went back to watching the game. We lost that day and I lost my grandma.
I never really understood all the people who make it seem as though sports are unimportant and sports fans are crazy. Sports give us something to root for, to rejoice about and to empathize about. When my team lost the most important game of the season on the day I lost my grandmother I knew millions of other people were lamenting with me. And even if it wasn’t exactly for the same reason, there was a sense of solidarity. I could go anywhere in the country and meet a Patriots fan and we’d instantly have that much in common.
Football for me, like God, is a source of hope. There will always be another season and another chance and another Sunday. We can change our circumstances in one fell swoop. We can come from behind and be victorious. We can have a perfect season but lose the game. But whatever happens, there’s always next year. I love football because it’s rough, it takes knowledge, and it’s fun to watch. But I think one of the main reasons I love it is because every moment, every play, every penalty, every Sunday, is important. And that’s a lot like life.
Plus it’s fun to watch people get tackled (but not in a sadistic way).