Last night, (as I started typing this post), February 5, 2016 I watched the new England Patriots led by Tom Brady play the Atlanta Falcons led by Matt Ryan. Coaches Belichik and Dan Quinn dueling things out at a more cerebral level and many other match-ups taking place as particular members of each offense conflicted and struggled with particular member of each defense — all this on the great autonomous stage that is the Super Bowl. This Super Bowl was one for the record books certainly. Robert Kraft certainly got more attention than Arthur Blank but he was very much in evidence from events like the NFL Honors which aired on Fox the night before the game to other events and to the big stage itself. Lady Gaga performed at half time and there was a pregame presentation of Hall of Fame players who hailed from Historically Black Colleges and Universities The after game interviews featured the many African American players and their family stories in some cases. The commercials had a strongly multicultural flavor. But even more than I ever remember seeing it before the main story line in sportswriting and sportscasting was the duel between these six rich, famous (Blank being the least famous) white guys in formal leadership positions. More than usual that was appropriate. This was a clash of very different franchises. It was a clash of a relatively up an coming coach and an old legend. It was the clash of a 2017 MVP quarterback without a ring and a quarterback playing in a season he started with a suspension who was playing to set himself outside the debate as the most successful quarterback in NFL history. It was the clash between the uniquely successful Kraft and the hungry Blank. Somehow all this multicultural tension and celebration mixed powerfully with regional competition and the anxieties of the recent Presidential election. And somehow the duel of the six rich famous white male leaders provided a uniquely bright frame for national emotion. This was a function many other Super Bowl contests have performed this on was not more stark and clear than other games but more stark and clear than much of the confusion of life just now for many in America and the World.
No Super Bowl is ever likely to measure up for me to the Super Bowl forty -four (XLIV) that was the first in which the Saints ever played and the one that they won. But of course, if they won another I would be very pleased. But it was still grand and super, we also had a super meal. I brought catfish fillets brought in courtesy of a complex reciprocal relationship with a friend and my mother mad a courtbouillon as well as many other snacks and side dishes. Dad and I and Mom and a a guest whose invitation I arranged but who is also my mother’s godson enjoyed the evening together. The event shared among us competed with the game, related events and halftime show more than if it had been the saints or we had been more hard core Super Bowl fans. But still we mostly watched the Super Bowl and related events and observed a great American tradition. Our guest was joined by brief drop-ins passing by. The guest himself had just returned form a long stay abroad and is here without his recently wed wife. But we all discussed travels and homecomings and enjoyed good food and good music in ways which sometimes interrupted the game.
In some ways our Super Bowl party reminded me of the different ways there are to participate in and observe the institutions and events associated with citizenship in the United States. Right now I am more obsessed with politics than most of the time. But still I like to think that this blog is a bit like that little Super Bowl party. It is about the big events but also about smaller events and bigger events that are not known in a big way. The change from the Obama Era to the Trump Era has been momentous but so was the living breathing experience of being a human being as millions have experienced. I had coffee this morning with my sister and enjoyed being with her children as often happens on Monday. I wrote down the dates of the play her older son is in. Yesterday, having been to vigil mass on Saturday I did lawn work most of the day in the unusually pleasant weather. I also have lots of negative experiences and woes which best my thoughts, pocket and health. All those are human realities more immediate and just as relevant to me as my current concern about politics as we know it from walls, travel bans and Senate rules. Sports play a special role in joining public communal interest and private concerns and values. The Super Bowl party is often a bit more than it seems.