Every Sunday afternoon, and every Monday night in my house, the white noise of NFL football served as background to our playing, our doing homework, our fighting with one another. There was no negotiating with my father about watching something else on Monday nights. For example, Little House on the Prarie aired on Mondays, and as we owned only one television, I often wound up in tears because my father wouldn't let me watch my show.
I hated football.
Now whenever I hear the roar of a televised crowd, the clacking of helmets and shoulder pads, the urgency of the sports commentators, I feel nostalgia for my childhood, for those afternoons spent playing keep away on the front lawn with my brothers on Sunday afternoons. Every 15 minutes, they'd yell "Dad!? What's the score?" through the screened windows into the family room, where my dad relaxed on the couch, reading the paper and watching a game.
Today, Superbowl Sunday, I did my American duty: our family went to a Superbowl Sunday party. The hostess, my friend Diana, is a Prince fan, hence her justification for hosting the party. I, however, felt relief that we had somewhere to go. As much as I am indifferent to the game, there is a visceral comfort in participating in the rituals of this day: the salty snacks, the half-hearted banter, the cold beer, the half-time show, the much-anticipated commercials.
Tomorrow, NFL football will fade back into the realm of meaninglessness for me. But today, it matters; I care; and my team is winning. Hoooo Yeah!