Super Bowl Sunday, or Super Sunday as it has come to be known, looms this weekend and since my beloved NY Giants won’t be on the field, I won’t be watching. I don’t really care about football in general, but I have been a fan of the Giants since the 1950’s. I used to be a fan of the NY Rangers, but that has fallen away as the hockey leagues grew and rivalries, such as that with the Bruins, have partly diminished. To say I don’t read the sports pages would not be true so I am aware of what is happening, but my fandom is far diminished—except for those Giants.
The concept of sport hardly existed in the 18th century, at least in the way that we see it. Today, it is a major factor in societal equilibrium in that it offers entertainment for everyone. A boy from the slums of Rio is able to identify with soccer greats and to a certain extent, it gives him hope. In the 18th century, what the people identified with, at least in Britain, was their country and its success in expanding its empire and, of course, defeating the French. This jingoism was the pride of place that has been superceded by sports teams. Winning the World Cup of soccer is a serious event.
As a teenager, I was somewhat derisive of the Super Bowl. I thought it was a corny name and, of course, I thought that the AFC could not keep up with the NFL. That is, until Joe Namath came along and changed that concept. Someone gave me such ridiculous odds on the Jets that I took the bet and won big. But when I moved to England, I forgot football, at least the American version, until I came home and it took time to warm back up to the Giants. They just knew how to lose in tantalizingly agonizing ways. But they have won the big dance four times and there is always next year. Go Giants!