At no time in American history has our population been this politically polarized and violently vociferous, with the possible exception of the Vietnam War, and probably the Civil War. Fortunately, many of us can return to center this week and celebrate a season of togetherness brought on by the one thing that uniquely unites Americans and distinguishes us from the citizens of all other nations: football.
Roughly a third of us watched the most recent Super Bowl, about the same amount of Americans who attend weekly worship services and slightly fewer than the number who voted in the 2016 presidential election. The difference is that the mass of religious worshippers are split from mass to mosque and from shrine to shul. Similarly, voters did not all agree on the candidates (as you may have heard).
But we can all agree about football. Right?
For example, we all understand that the sport itself is either a supreme test of manhood, a glorious symbol of our nation’s virility and preparation for conquest or a quasi-gladiatorial spectacle for face-painted blood-lusting lunatics to watch brain-bashing to the tune of more than 99 percent of football players’ brains recently studied at Boston University showing signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
So, you see, there is little about our favorite sport to separate us and every opportunity for people of all political and social stripes to join together, blood pressure rising as one.
Likewise, we agree that NFL players should be suspended about half the number of games for inflicting domestic abuse as for smoking marijuana (even if to help ease the pain of football’s institutionalized brutality without risk of opioid addiction). Or vice versa.
Who could possibly argue that the cheerleaders providing the sideline flesh-fest before and after each commercial break that hawks healthy-American practices from fast food consumption to beer-guzzling to gas-guzzling are either exemplars of physical beauty to which all girls should aspire or are symbols of sexual enslavement who perpetuate the myth that the football hero gets the girl whether she wants to get got or not?
And, of course, there can be no debate that NFL players either should blindly obey the edict to stand during the pre-game playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” to show themselves as true Americans or should use the platform of their fame to protest social injustice, acting on their rights to show themselves as true Americans.
Yes, there are hardly any grounds for disagreement in our nation’s mutual football fanhood. You may pull for the Patriots (because what could me more American than that?) or the Cowboys (aka “America’s Team”) or you may hate either or both because it is truly the American way to root for the underdog (which makes you a Browns fan). But, kidding aside, this week we probably all support the Houston Texans as they help heal their fans from Hurricane Harvey.
So, you see, there is little about our favorite sport to separate us and every opportunity for people of all political and social stripes to join together, blood pressure rising as one, from the first strains of “The Star-Spangled Banner” this Thursday to the confetti-drenched “I’m going to Disneyland” finale in February. Let the games begin!
David Jacobson is a freelance writer and marketing communications consultant, working primarily in sports and social causes. Follow him at @CoachDaveJake.