I believe in football. I believe in the hard-hitting, adrenaline-pumping, beer-drinking, nacho-eating, neanderthalic, war-like testosterone filled nature so much is makes me want to jump up and down every September. I believe that nothing can bind a group of 50,000 strangers together more than seeing a 250 pound linebacker try to mangle an opposing quarterback and I believe that my Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are only tolerable when that opposing quarterback is from a team that I hate. From the brisk autumn air to the face stinging winds of late December, the best back drop for weekend afternoons and nights is a parking lot with a sea of semi or fully inebriated individuals in a bright contrasting rainbow of jerseys, sweatshirts, painted faces, and cheese heads, where questions and concerns of the pocket quarterbacks and blitz packages mix with the smell of charcoal and the sounds of marching bands.
I believe the camaraderie of the game as a uniting spark between individuals who not only do not know each other, but have little in common. Lawyers, bankers, roofers, truck drivers, doctors and students all drink from the same trough at football games, celebrating in victory or complaining about refs in defeat. Whether a fan is in upper management or in the mail room, stadiums are a cohesive unit surging toward a shared goal: a win for us. Nothing can level the playing field more than the shared joy of a state championship, bowl win, or Superbowl victory for a team; the emotion of a winning team is something that is shared by all, monopolized by none.
I believe in the players from high school to college to the professional teams. I believe that no matter what the level and no matter what the team, players are playing for the fans. Rain, shine, snow, sleet and hail, the ravenous football lovers will brave nearly anything to see their boys play. I believe that the players invest their bodies, sweat, and blood for those who truly live die by the fall of the pig skin. The bond that some people feel for a hometown high school quarterback or the superstar defensive tackle on a pro team could be described by some as an institutional type of insanity, yet to me and many others, it never really seams that strange. That connection between fan and player and player and fan, no matter perceived or real, is what made me wait around for autographs from my favorite players as a child, teenager, and adult and what I believe keeps players there long after the game is won or lost.
Finally, I believe in walking through the tunnel of any stadium and emerging with that first view of a dynamically green field can offer anyone a metaphorical waterfall, cleansing life’s plate of worries and concerns leaving only a healthy portion of pigskin. Going to games, high school, college, or professional, in the right environment, can be the best form or therapy for many people. The crowds oceanic like power can overwhelm any emotion, and replace it with excitement for an impending game. The calming power of pulsing stadium almost seems an impossibility to many, but for me, there is no place better to soothe my soul. And while a game can reward throngs of fans with jubilation or drive them to despair, for three or four hours, I believe most are rewarded by getting lost in an exciting competition, if only for a brief time.
So to all you screaming, tailgating, overworked, underpaid, voracious aficionados of the marvelous game we call football, I leave you with a few words I have wanted to say since last season: see you at the game.
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