Men, I want you just thinking of one word all season. One word and one word only: Super Bowl.
—Bill Peterson, football coach giving pep talk
When I was a kid I must have been absent the day they explained why boys were supposed to be so enthusiastic about sports, particularly football. Particularly professional football. As a week of pre-Super Bowl media hype draws to a close, I’m left wondering what I’m missing.
I suppose I’m just a product of my upbringing. My father wasn’t a sports fan. The game was never on at our house. As far as I know, the old man and I never played catch, even once. In that sense, my childhood was downright un-American. People certainly thought so in Oklahoma, where I lived for five years back in the 70’s.
To this day, I don’t even know the rules to football. I don’t think I have ever sat through an entire football game a single time in my life. My friend Mark, now deceased, dammit, used to turn to me any time any sports team was mentioned and deadpan, “FYI, that’s the name of an athletic organization, Pete.” “Thanks,” I would answer.
If Mark were alive tonight, he’d be listening to the game (he was blind) but he wouldn’t be trying to force it on me.