My parents were football fans when I was growing up. My dad still watches football, but perhaps with less enthusiasm than he once had. My brother and both brothers-in-law are football fans. As it happens, none of their teams made it to Super Bowl LV.
It’s hard to believe that the Super Bowl is only five years older than I am. It’s a baby compared to the World Series.
Somehow, I never really got into football, beyond playing touch football with friends in empty fields when I was a kid. My most exciting football moments came on the long car rides between Rhode Island and New York in the early 1980s, when my brother and I would exercise our fingers and football prowess with Coleco Electronic Quarterback. (I wrote about these games back in 2015 over at SFSignal).
Monday Night Football increased my disdain after we moved to Los Angeles and I discovered the game would often preempt TV shows I enjoyed, like MacGyver. When I got older, I used to try to spend Super Bowl Sunday at Disneyland because the park was relatively empty on that day.
I grew scornful of football, and would cheerfully announce how happy I was that the season was over the Monday after the Super Bowl.
Decades later my views have mellowed. People get set in their ways, but I find that a good dose of empathy can and often does change my mind about things. No, I’m still not a football fan, but I try not to complain about it anymore, especially around those I know who enjoy the game. In this instance, it was a short essay by Andy Rooney from way back in 1980 that I came across a few years ago that changed my mind. In it, Rooney pleads:
Could I ask a little favor of some of you tonight? Please don’t sit there saying you hate football and you’re glad it’s over. Don’t say that. Some of us are very sad. There’s a hole in our lives you could drive a truck through, as Frank Gifford might say.
While some of what he wrote in that short piece was in jest, it reminded me of how I feel when anything I enjoy is over: the baseball season, a good movie, a great book, the end of a vacation. I really do feel left with an emptiness inside that isn’t easy to fill. This, perhaps, is why it is so difficult to pick a book after finishing a great one. Nothing will live up to it until that hole is filled.
I won’t be watching the Super Bowl today, but I hope that those of you who do watch it enjoy it, and that you get an exciting game. I know that Super Bowl Sunday is as much about the experience as it is the game itself, so have a great Sunday. As Hawkeye Pierce might say, “Take two wings out of petty cash.”
And while I don’t have any skin in the game, I’m rooting for Kansas City, since my friend Bart is from Kansas City, and he is awfully fond of that place.