I had the good fortune of watching the last two New York Giants games in the company of a young lady who can only be described as “heavenly”, by virtue of us both being invited to watch the contests at the apartment of a mutual friend. Playoff football is not a conducive atmosphere to get to know someone, so I have every intention of asking her out for a cup of coffee the day after Super Bowl 42. This particular girl seems pretty perceptive, so I expect her to eventually ask why I am so wrought with tension during Giants’ games. Why do I get so involved in the Giants and their playoff march? Why is it that I allow myself to care too much?
These questions aren’t anything new; most fans have been interrogated with a similar line of questioning at least once in their lives. Unfortunately, these feelings aren’t readily put into words, and we are often only capable of answering in an unsatisfactory fashion.
The problem, at least for me, is that it isn’t the Giants, or the game of football, that has me rapt in awe. The reason why I can never fully explain my emotional commitment to the New York Giants is because what I’ve actually committed myself to wasn’t the New York Giants. It’s the tantalizing possibility of the unexplainable. The chance that we might see something we never knew could happen.
Our entire lives, we’re taught that for every action there’s a reaction. Out of this cause and effect relationship logic is born. It is ingratiated into our thinking process that, in no uncertain terms, logic governs everything. For something to exist, it must first be logically possible. Any tangible entity, any produced sum, is merely the end result of an iron-proof string of logical reactions of which there can be only one possible outcome. Teachers ensured that we understood this by making us show all of our work for any problem presented to us.
As we get older, every desire we might have is likewise subject to these laws. Will I get that promotion? Yes, provided you’ve worked harder than your colleagues on that presentation, and also on impressing your boss. Will you be able to afford your rent this month? As long as you managed to stop drinking after the sixth beer, meaning you didn’t get drunk enough to buy the entire bar a round of shots. If you didn’t stop at the sixth beer, and went on to buy the bar a round of Jagermeisters, and a couple extra for yourself, causing you to wake up with a nasty hangover, which meant you did a lousy job during your presentation and summarily failed to impress your boss, then you are unlikely to make your rent or get that promotion you now so desperately need.
But, even with all of this logical reasoning as the basis for all that I do, I still can’t figure out how it came to be that the Giants are going to the Super Bowl. Everything I’ve learned in fifteen years of watching football can not combine to formulate one single argument for the Giants not only beating the Packers in the NFC Championship Game, but for them actually making it there at all. Eli Manning is not supposed to beat Brett Favre for the NFC Title at Lambeau Field in sub-zero temperatures. Eli Manning is not that mentally tough. Brett Favre is. The defense is not supposed to rally around Coach Tom Coughlin, because you don’t revere Tom Coughlin, you obey him. If I could point to one Giant who suddenly started playing up to the level he was always capable of, I would. It’s just that there are too many of them to name. The same could be said for the number of guys who have gritted it out through injuries just for one shot at playoff glory. In the end, there are too many bizarre coincidences to account for. The string of reason was not just broken, it was entirely wiped out. Logic, it seems, didn’t apply.
And that is why I love sports. Not everything has to have a proper cause and effect; things can just inexplicably happen.
Maybe the Giants can beat the unbeatable New England Patriots. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll find that the heavenly brunette likes me too.