There is no doubt about it. America loves football. Perhaps it’s because football is uniquely American. And in spite of all the hype about multi-culturalism, America has a culture that is unique.
Football reflects it.
Football teams are melting pots, where players from every race and ethnicity are evaluated on their performance and not their background. As each player was separately introduced to the viewing audience, it became apparent that we Americans hail from across the globe, and from every walk of life. It was equally obvious that those diverse origins had no effect on our ability to live and work together in harmony to achieve a shared goal.
The announcers talked about how some players began the season as starters, and lost their starting position to someone, or began as substitutes and worked their way into a starting position. In other words, every player was given an equal opportunity to succeed, but had to earn that success.
The game itself was a testament to the need for individual excellence. No one watching will easily forget the Warner/Fitzgerald whirlwind that gave Arizona the lead with the final 2 minute warning looming. Or the calm determination of Ben Roethlisberger as he led his team back down the field with the clock ticking. And the final touchdown catch by MVP Santonio Holmes was a showstopper. Football may be a team sport, but every viewer understood that the effort and achievement of the individuals involved is what makes the team great.
It was also a study in perseverance. Steeler James Harrison, who scored a 100 yard running touchdown, is not known for his running game. His run was lumbering, awkward and slow. It also was unstoppable. And Arizona, after watching a near certain touchdown turn into a record breaking score for their opponents, refused to concede defeat. They came back from that moment and its resulting scoring deficit to grab the lead.
The pre-game media blitz showed American sportsmanship. Both coaches were professional and respectful of their counterparts. The players were optimistic about their own chances, but realistic about the ability of their opponents. In fact, the pre-games story was that there WAS no story – there was no whining or complaining or accusing. There was no one demanding special treatment or consideration. There was just a group of talented athletes eager to prove that they were the best in the world at their sport.
America isn’t perfect.
But she is unique.
America is the only country in the world where people from every other place come to BECOME an American – and are welcomed. She offers each person the opportunity to succeed. She rewards perseverance and hard work. She recognizes the value of individual excellence, even in group activities. She does not accept failure easily. And she values fairness.
No wonder we love football’s Super Bowl. It reminds us of the best in ourselves. And it lets the world see America as she was designed to be.