Today is Super Bowl Sunday. It is a day of salty snacks and high-fives. It is a day where minutes are measured in hours and no one leaves at commercial. It is a day to celebrate the love of the game and it is a day when everyone becomes a fan.
Today is a day to love football. And here’s why:
1. Football is a Unifier.
I’m hard-pressed to find anyone in my immediate geography who isn’t a Bronco fan today. Unless you were born in or just moved from Seattle, it’s all about root (root-root)ing for the home team. And with each hurrah, our pride grows. In our town, in our team, and in our hope for a big win.
While we all have varying degrees of passion and commitment, fair-weather and diehard alike, we share a common denominator. At some point along the way (or even just for today), we become fans. And we rally together behind our team. We cheer together for the victories and we grumble together in the defeats. And in a world of conflict, argument and debate, it’s a nice change of pace to feel like we are all on the same page. If only for a few hours every week.
There’s something pretty magical about pulling up to an elementary school at recess time and seeing a sea of orange jerseys. There’s something pretty magical about my four year old wearing his #18 every day for the last five months (notwithstanding Mom veto power on laundry days and any day that might involve paint). There’s something pretty magical about a solidarity that truly runs the gamut.
Football unites us. And that’s a reason to love.
2. Football is a welcomed distraction.
Every day is filled with challenges, some infinitesimal, others infinite. Life is beautiful but it can also be really, really hard. And serious. And complicated. And important. And fragile. We have to make decisions and honor commitments to our work, to our loved ones, to ourselves. We have to make sense of tragedy and heartache. We have to teach our kids how to be kind and what is right and what is wrong. We have never ending to-do lists and piles of paper, dirty clothes and phone calls and emails to return.
Sometimes, you just need a break. A hiatus from the heavy stuff, an ebb from the flow. A few moments to stop and plop and simply be entertained. And frankly, sometimes you just need a little justification to sit on the couch.
Football gives you that distraction. Of course, so do the Real Housewives, but, nevertheless, it’s a reason to love.
3. Football players are kind.
A position in the NFL brings with it celebrity, exposure and an out-of-this-universe salary. So often we hear about the scandals, the partying, the tabloids, and unfortunately, the getting caught because of it all. Rarely are we reminded that football players are also human beings with big hearts.
Peyton Manning, quarterback for the Denver Broncos, has a charity called the Peyback Foundation, which provides opportunities for children at risk in Tennessee, Louisiana, Indiana, and Colorado. His now famous “Omaha!” at the line of scrimmage has resulted in almost $25,000 in donations (and counting) with the pledges of fifteen Omaha-based businesses who make a contribution every time he yells “Omaha!”
After Hurricane Katrina, Warrick Dunn, former running back for the Buccaneers and Falcons, challenged all NFL players to donate $5,000, resulting in a $5 million dollar contribution to victims. Dunn’s charities include Home for the Holidays, which provides assistance to single-parent families working toward first-time homeownership and Betty’s Hope, a children’s bereavement program named after Dunn’s mother who was killed when Dunn was only 18 and left to care for his younger siblings.
The Brandon Marshall Foundation, named after the Chicago wide receiver, helps fund research and bring awareness to mental illness and provide relief to suffering individuals.
Nnamdi Asomugha’s charity, Orphans and Widows in Need, provides food, shelter, medicine, vocational training, literacy efforts, and scholarships to victims of poverty or abuse in Nigeria. Asomugha, a former cornerback for the Raiders and 49ers, also heads the Asomugha College Tour for Students, which provides low-income high school seniors with college campus visits across the country.
Richard Sherman, cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks, founded Blanket Coverage, a non-profit dedicated to provide underprivileged youth with school supplies and clothes. Last summer, he organized a celebrity softball game to raise money to build a new home for a wounded soldier.
The Cornerstone Foundation, led by Charles Tillman, cornerback for the Chicago Bears, helps improve the lives of critically and chronically ill children throughout Chicago. Since 2005, Tillman’s charitable efforts have impacted the lives of over one million children.
The list goes on and on. And, thankfully, so does the philanthropy. And that’s a reason to love.
We all can find a reason to love football. And I love it for all of these reasons.
But for me, I need look no further than my little #18 sitting next to me on the couch.