Friday, February 4, 2011

The Great American Tradition

For 51 weeks out of the year, I like to consider myself a member of humanity. I may have stole that philosophy from a hippie I met at the Chevron in Flagstaff, AZ, but it's very appropriate for a traveller to think this way. No matter where you come from or what your nationality is, we all share the same home. But, for one week out of the year, I tuck that mentality in the drawer with my passport, buy a pack of Coors Light and hot wings, and indulge in the greatest of all American traditions: the Super Bowl.

Nothing reminds you how awesome the USA is than the championship game of the American football season. It's the one Sunday out of the year that pastors cut church early, grocery stores shut down, and the chips and salsa industry sees the biggest profits of the year. You gather with your friends and family to crowd around the television to get drunk and watch football. Nobody fights like at Christmas or Thanksgiving, and there isn't a must-go-to party like at New Years. As long as you have friends, beer, and a television, you're all set. Seriously, it boggles me that we get Columbus Day off and not Super Bowl Sunday....

The beautiful thing about the Super Bowl is that for one day, people have to be included in the festivities. The last thing anyone wants is to show up at work on the following Monday and not know the outcome of the game. If that happens, you're immediately cast aside and your Social Security number is flagged by the FBI as a 'person of interest'. 

Each Super Bowl game is special, but most parties are the same. Some are more into the game than others, but everyone's there for the same reason. There's food galore, everything to nurture the heart attack you've been working on for 10 years. There's cheap beer readily available. Even the kids get into the festivities, often playing pick-up games in the house because they know that mom and dad are too busy enjoying the fact that everyone's getting along.

Now the game is usually spectacular, the commercials are pretty funny, and the halftime show is entertaining (save for the couple years after the Janet Jackson incident), but what really defines the Super Bowl as the Great American Tradition is the Star Spangled Banner preceding kickoff:
Seriously, nobody's better than Whitney

It's a song that every American has heard a million times before, but for some reason the Super Bowl's rendition manages to bring a glisten to my eye as that final note rings into the audience. It's the only moment you'll see 60,000 fans silent with their gaze on the stars and stripes and their hands over their hearts. For a brief moment, the nation stands still, casting aside our differences and our disdain for government as we focus on what makes our nation great. Soldiers, football players, diplomats, and drunk cheese-heads stand side by side to remind themselves why we love America and everything she stands for. 

We know that on Monday, we'll go back to our lives relatively the same as we were before. We might talk about the game or impersonate the funny commercial that aired. For the most part, nothing really changes. But, during that broadcast on that one Sunday every winter, we know that in one year's time we'll be doing this again....still Americans, and still free. Remember that when you're rooting for Aaron Rodgers to destroy the Steelers' secondary this weekend. And please, turn off the television after the game. I don't want 'Glee' milking ratings again...

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