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Sunday Night Football

To some, Sunday is a time to unwind. To many, it is a day of worship. I spend my Sundays relaxing while praising the football gods. It is an American tradition to participate in the great sport of football. Unlike with most other sports, you do not need to physically be in the game to be a football participant. It is as much of an experience for the player as it is for the spectator. The trials and tribulations experienced by players on field translate to fan emotion off field. Therefore, for this past November’s Sunday Night Football game–this  season’s undefeated team to beat, the  New England Patriots took on my favorite team, the struggling Philadelphia Eagles–I decided to focus on the onlookers of the game instead of on the game itself (being a fan of the game, this was harder to do than it may seem).The Eagles lost 31-28. This was expected; however, the close score was not expected at all. Before the game started, anyone would have put their money on an easy and wide-margined Patriots’ victory. According to ESPN sportswriter Sal Paolantonio, “Just three seasons after being separated by just three points in Super Bowl XXXIX, the gap between the Patriots and Eagles has widened to historic proportions: Philly is a 23½-point underdog. That is the largest point spread for an NFL game that does not involve an expansion team… (Par. 1)”

Some people like to say, there is a lot of good that can come from a loss, or that a loss can be a moral victory. However, while I know that winning is not everything, it damn sure is better than losing. Losing, a common theme lately among the Eagles, causes dissatisfaction among players and fans. This was obvious as I watched the game Sunday night.

The whole week before the game consisted of anticipation that grew stronger as game night approached. Anticipation of a huge game as this past Sunday’s consists of a lot of trash-talking and arguing. I saw more clearly than ever before that the pregame arguments were almost purely emotional. During the game, instead of participating in the conversation as thoroughly as usual, I listened to others banter on as if they were experts on the game of football.  They spit out modified arguments and discussions that they listened to the entire week on ESPN. Statistics were distorted and exaggerated to make invalid points. Quotes made by SportsCenter anchors were plagiarized. Most of the nonsense I heard was illogical, but somehow everything fit in with the NFL ambiance.

During the game, I noticed how quickly emotions changed play by play. Cheers turned into boos in the matter of a second. The kids watching the game in the room had breaks of silence in the middle of big plays; these breaks were filled in with muddled screams and arguments. But I found peace among all of the chaos in the room; the entire situation presented itself as an art form.

The scenario was not unlike Barthes’ idea of a spectacle in “The World of Wrestling.” In his essay, Barthes describes professional wrestling as “the great spectacle of Suffering, Defeat, and Justice.” While spectatorship is defined as being passive, since it is the act of looking and not acting, Barthes claims that in wrestling the relationship between performers and fans defies that definition. The same applies to football. Fans are not simply looking on as the game proceeds; they rather react as if they are part of the game. In fact, the fans are a major part of the game, because it would be completely different without their presence, support, and applause.

Football fans are as much a part of the game as the players on field. Feelings are mutual among fans and players alike. Every action on field has a fan reaction off field. Therefore, fans of football are more than mere spectators–they are contributors and active participants to the game of football.

2 replies on “Sunday Night Football”

ehh its’ applause, not applaud (near the end).

I totally agree with what you’re saying. Without the fans, the players and the league would be nothing. Not just from a funding stand point, but from a performance and being accepted perspective, as well.

If players and their performances aren’t being validated by people other than their organizations, what are they really playing for?

It’s like playing a Madden Franchise and breaking every single record and never losing a game, yet no one but you sees or cares about it. What’s the point?

While you nailed this part right on the head, I don’t think it’s exactly “news”. As fans, we pretty much get the whole “up and down” roller coaster effect that is and always will be sports, especially with pro football.

good effort, but I desired better results.

yeah i’ll fix it for him.

Never thought I’d see Roland Barthes referenced on this site.

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