If you grew up with me, you are wondering if I actually wrote that title, this article. Yes, it is true. I have become a football fan, specifically a Panthers fan. As a disclaimer, I am not a fair-weather fan; my attention turned towards football about two years ago. The whole fanfare was a mystery to me most of my life. I didn’t understand why people got so into it…until I did.
Unity within the community.
There is something magical that coincides with a football game. Tighter bonds within communities are formed. Family, neighbors and friends who don’t see one another often enough, come together. We eat, drink, and be merry together. Our children get to know the people they should now- they get to know thy neighbors (there is more behind that phrase for those of you who have been following my facebook feed). Why is this so important? Because we need one another. We need to know and feel that we are not alone in this life. When a neighbor calls for a favor, that conversation becomes easier on both both sides of the phone. The neighborly wave turns into a neighborly high five during football season. We bond during the game, noting the plays and catching up during timeouts and commercials.
We are not alone.
I said it already, but it is worth saying again: we need to know we are not alone in this world. When we are going through the motions of our day-to-day activities, we seldom interact with our neighbors, (sometimes) family, and friends. Football carves out time to get together with one another. I don’t know about you, but I see my neighbors a lot less offseason. I will miss them after tonight, after the Super Bowl. Yes, I will see them- but we won’t be gathering on back porches and around kitchen islands as frequently. It is just the way it is.
Football is a conversation starter.
My phone rang today. The call was not for me, but rather for my son. It was his grandfather calling to talk about the Super Bowl. They talked about the players, about their predictions, and shared their excitement about our own Carolina Panthers representing the Carolinas at Super Bowl 50. The phone call’s inspiration game from one of America’s most celebrated games. As they chatted, my heart smiled. I witnessed a bond tightening over sharing excitement about the Super Bowl. We interact with one another more often when we know we have something in common to talk about. Think about going to the grocery store, seeing an acquaintance out, or running into a long lost friend: football provides a conversation starter.
Football bonds fathers and sons, husband and wives, daughters and fathers, and so on…
Turning the corner, my daughter appeared wearing her Luke Kuechly jersey, Panthers earrings, face painted, and hair streaked with Panthers blue. He looked at her adoringly and proud. United in spirit and in heart, they further connect. They stop and celebrate one another while celebrating their team. My son pounds his chest, as my husband cheers them on. I smile while wearing my team shirt. We come together as a family. In preparation, we cook together and prepare our home for neighbors. Guys offer one another bro-hugs; a camaraderie is deepened (let’s assume there are no opposing teams). Quite simply and almost effortlessly, bonds tighten.
I am writing this before the Super Bowl has concluded, before we know the outcome. But I already know that there are certain outcomes that make us all winners. My heart warms and at the same time, sighs. The following Sunday will be quiet, there will be no set opportunity for all of us to come together. Collectively, intentionally, we will have to make an effort to create reasons for us to all unite during the offseason. So if you haven’t given football a chance, consider the side effects if you are not interested in the main course. I expect I will look over and see you sitting next to me, just as surprised as I once was.