--Roald Dahl, alt.
Sometimes human beings: we just need to play. To play and to have fun. To watch others play a game and have fun in that pastime too.
So on many Sunday evenings, after a long week of work, I get together with a few friends at a local bar and we play a game of trivia, against other teams. Over cold glasses of beer or diet Coke and hot slices of pepperoni pizza, we take a few hours to test our minds for arcane information and then we compete, with joy and gusto and much laughter.
Who is the only person to play for the Celtics, the Bruins and the Red Sox? (John Kiley, who played the organ at both Fenway Park and the Boston Garden!)
And while we tax our brains at coming up with such trivial answers, larges screen TVs surround us, always tuned to professional sports games for us to watch. We play while they play: NFL football games on chilly winter evenings, Major League baseball games on warm summer nights. We cheer for a touchdown. Groan when an easily catchable ball is dropped. Protest vehemently if a referee clearly missed an obvious call.
I’ve always loved games, both as a player and as a fan. Games allow me to lose myself for a bit of time, escape the more intense aspects of my life and my work. Games remind me that even in middle age, I’ve still got a body, and it is made for more than just laying on the couch and eating Cheetos! I still need to play and challenge myself physically: at the gym or on my bicycle. To watch games is a gift too: witness athletes at the top of their games, women and men who stretch their physical abilities to the max, do things I can only view with awe. A vicious overhead smash by Serena Williams for the point. A towering, clutch home run by David Ortiz. A perfectly thrown spiral for a touchdown, delivered from the miraculous hands of Tom Brady.
To play a game. To watch a game. And always to just have fun.
After all, that’s why it’s called a game. Fun. That’s why I and so many of us are PSYCHED this week as we New Englanders prepare with huge anticipation for a really, really, really big game and big fun: New England Patriots versus the Atlanta Falcons. Super Bowl LI, Sunday night, 6:30 pm, in Houston, Texas.
GO PATS! GO FUN!
Fun. One game so many of us across the nation will share all together, a rare communal event we agree is a nice break from the day to day. No debate. No protest. No rancor. Just fun. To gorge ourselves on delicious, gut busting food, throw out the diet, balance a plate of sour cream covered chili on our laps and a beer in our hands, surrounded by family and friends and all of us cheering full volume. Fun. To watch the gaudy spectacle of it all, the crazy and weird TV commercials, the preening national anthem singer, the over the top halftime show, excess that only American culture can produce. Fun. At a chilly and wet and freezing time of year, with Christmas a dim memory and spring still a far away dream. Fun. To watch the game with our kids and remember the games we watched with our Moms and Dads, to be a kid again, in a way.
Fun. A game. A super game. The Super Bowl.
Given the current state of our world and nation I know that right now, I need some fun. Bet you do too. We all do. We need a game. We need to participate in an activity within which, truth be told, there is finally little or nothing at stake, save for entertainment and the pleasure of watching what is finally, is after all only, a game. Thank God. The world will not rise nor fall based upon its outcome. Rabid Pats fans may dis the Atlanta team, and Falcon fans are so excited at the hope of taking down the despised Patriots, but that red hot rhetoric means nothing. It’s harmless trash talk, playground chatter.
For one night, most of America will actually be able to concur about one thing. A game. The game. The fun of play. We can all go back to regular life, come next Monday morning, but for now?
GO PATS! GO GAME! GO PLAY!