The game itself was amazing, featuring an astonishing comeback by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. I was rooting for Atlanta, as I always want to see a city lacking in championships earn one. That first parade is always magical. But the football gods were fickle, and Boston gets the joy.
The end of football season means that baseball, and my beloved San Francisco Giants, are just around the corner. We're already seeing photos from this year's commercial shoots, and Spring Training opens next week! Rapture! Joy! Beat L.A.!
Seriously, Beat L.A. With a stick. I hate the Dodgers.
But along with the overblown end of the NFL season came something I've come to dread on social media. People adopting elitist, dismissive attitudes about sports. Sadly, some people I consider friends to this. It annoys me no end, and I have to keep from exploding every time I see it. So I'll just explain why here in this space.
Calling all sports "sportsball" and pretending to be confused by the basic concepts of the game are insulting. Refusing to admit that sports are popular to a wide audience of all backgrounds is delusional. Whining about people spending money on watching sports is rude and controlling. If I choose to spend money on a Brandon Crawford jersey and pay to go to a game that's my business.
I have friends, some of whom have done the sportsball thing, who spend thousands of dollars every year to attend science-fiction conventions. I love conventions, but you don't think that someone somewhere isn't rolling their eyes at this? Two men I am proud to call friends have devoted thousands of hours and an equal amount of money to creating fantastic costumes and props, all for their own enjoyment. Surely there could have been a better use for that money, some would argue.
But it's what brings these people joy. So fuck off and let them enjoy it.
So why do I enjoy sports so much? I love watching skilled people do things that I could never do. A Major League pitcher can top 99mph on a fastball. The batter has less than a second to identify the speed and motion of the ball, make a swing/no swing decision, and commit to the act. Literally the slowest part of this action is the signal from the brain to the muscles to move. Yet a good batter will make contact over half the time.
A NFL quarterback has to be away of the position of 21 people at the time he gets the ball. He has to be able to track his receivers and throw the ball into a crowd and get it to the right guy. See how well you do at this when being pursued by guys who are big, fast, and strong. A few years ago my mom and I get great seats for a 49ers preseason game. We were right down by the sidelines near the end zone. We saw exactly how fast these players are, and how hard they hit.
There you go, I love sports because I love seeing amazing things unfold live.
But there's another reason why I love sports, and football in particular. 49ers football is probably my one good memory of my late father. Dad and I never got along. I often say that he wanted children and got Californians. Dad grew up in England during the Depression and WWII in a military family. He simple wasn't prepared for kids with political opinions and a sense of personal freedom. We locked horns on everything.
But on Sundays, we were a family united. I was raised a 49er Faithful. I joke that my first words were "wait 'till next year!" We lived and died by the Niners. Even when all my friends were rooting for the Steelers or Cowboys, the two dominant teams of the 1970s, I held fast to my roots.
My parents had season tickets at Candlestick Park, 45 yard line, right under the press box. Sometimes, I'd get to go to the game with Daddy. I can still remember riding up the long escalator while holding his hand, cheering as John Brodie let the Red and Gold down the field, getting to eat hot dogs and candy, and mainly just being with my dad as we followed the family religion.
Even later, at the worst of our estrangement, I would call him every Sunday during the season to talk about the game. It was the one common thread that held us together. And when he died, I think my first reaction was that I was going to miss those conversations.
In conclusion, if you don't like sports, good for you. But don't think that makes you better than anyone else, and don't be a condescending twat about it.
Oh, and Go Giants! BEAT L.A.