As we geared up for the Giants-Packers game last Sunday, I was reminded of the enormous sense of connection and community that sporting events provide. Amidst widespread social tension, grim economic forecasts, troubling international relations and an ailing environment, when game time approaches we put down our burdens and pick up our pom-poms. We find momentary hope in a seemingly hopeless world.
The power of team spirit was evident years ago when the New England Patriots soared to a Super Bowl win following 9/11 and later when the New Orleans Saints marched into a five year fairy tale in the wake of Katrina. Many people turn to the sports section first in order to read the good news before the bad. The energy and passion that swirls around “our team” has always had the power to lift us up, up, and away.
We gather in stadiums and around wide-screen TVs the same way our parents huddled around radios during WWII. We switch gears from common concerns to a shared obsession. We happily loose perspective and for a few
hours pretend that if our team wins, all will be right in the world. But our rituals create a winning scenario regardless of the outcome, because at the end of the day we’ve enjoyed a good time with good people eating good food and thinking good thoughts.
I write a lot about tradition because it lifts and anchors; inspires and comforts. Game time offers this and more. Through preparations and celebrations we step out of our weekday selves and leave our inhibitions behind. We high five and chest bump people we wouldn’t normally take the time to know. What divides disappears and what connects builds until the final whistle blows. We count our blessings and then the days until we can once again capture the magic in the midst of madness and feel hope in a hopeless world.