Almost everyone loves the Super Bowl. Super Bowl Sunday has been an unofficial holiday in the United States for decades, and the Monday following the Super Bowl is the one day of the year employees are most likely to call in sick. On the list of the top 30 most watched television broadcasts of all time, 16 are Super Bowls. What is it about sporting events in general, and the Super Bowl in particular, that captures the heart of so many Americans?
The love of competitive sports has been around in the Western world for milennia. The first Olympics in Ancient Greece was held in 776 B.C. For over 1000 years (until Dark Age Christian rulers outlawed the event), the Olympics captivated tens of thousands in the City-States of Greece every four years — it was their Super Bowl. The Greeks revered the Olympic competitors as shining examples of man’s physical potential. Athletes competed in the nude because the spectators found their muscular figures to be beautiful and heroic. They were giants among men, as close to the gods as humans could come.
I believe that this same spirit — this reverence of man’s potential — is part of what makes the Super Bowl so infectious. The Wide Receivers and Defensive Backs are some of the fastest sprinters alive; the Quarterbacks have to be amazing all-around athletes; and the Linemen are literally giants, even when compared to the other players. Each position requires its own combination of strength, speed, agility, and intelligence. Consequently, the men on the field during the Super Bowl are some of fastest and strongest men on the planet.
The reverence for man’s potential is especially relevant in America, a nation founded on individualism. The Founding Fathers believed that man could only reach his full potential if left free to pursue his dreams. The result: even an immigrant with no education — an “underdog” — can come to America and make a fortune.
Sporting events like the Super Bowl inspire us because they symbolize the pursuit of human excellence. In showing us the great potential of the human body, these spectacles represent the even greater potential of the human spirit. As these giants among men take the field to display their physical skill, they inspire others to charge into life with all the vigor of a professional athlete.