The game itself is the product of an enormous, bizarre rule book, so complicated that even people who made careers out of officiating NFL games will often be confused by its language. Each match is a laborious, three-hour affair, with long pauses between the action. It could be the short spurts of physical viciousness that keep the NFL at the top of the pile, but if the violence were enough to bring in a dominant share of the market, boxing would still be the national pastime.
Football games create a narrative within themselves, from two quarterbacks marshal campaign against each other, to bruising in the trenches of the centerline, to the graceful athleticism deeper down the field. The cinematography has evolved over the years; the producers have gotten very good at finding the best story and following it. But it’s more than good entertainment. Sports impress me because something actually happens. When the game-clock hits zero, it’s over. There’s a winner and a loser. Inertia has become a status quo; sitcom actors get older but the plots are the same. News outlets flit from doomsday to doomsday. Football moves forward. The players age, sometimes at an alarming rate. Dynasties crumble in a matter of years. Some clear themselves from the wreckage after a few season, other seem to have been in the basement for an eternity. And then, they aren’t.
The Super Bowl is important because it is the culmination of five months of blown ACLs, wrecked shoulders, exploded knees and ruined egos. I’ve slowly come to terms with the fact that NFL players, even the scrubs, work harder at what they do more than I’ll ever work for anything, and care more about it than I can ever imagine. They’ve literally put their bodies on the line so that my friends and I can enjoy ourselves this Sunday evening. It seems almost disrespectful to ignore them.
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