Today is Superbowl Sunday, that festival of all the sacred American traditions: football, junk food, and most of all, commercials.
If you think of the Superbowl as a high holy day of secular American culture, you will notice that people are much more demonstrative at this ritual than they are in most churches.
Even stoic, polite Episcopalians lose their inhibitions when their favorite team is down to 4th and goal with one minute to go.
Nor am I innocent of devotion to this American religion. I may be a priest of the Episcopal church first, but second, I love football.
I mean, I really love football, in the most undignified way possible.
I used not to care about sports at all, and then once I got to college and had a big state university team to root for, I started to get interested. Four years of college plus three of graduate school transformed me into a rabid fan–win or lose, rain or snow, you’ll find me in the stands for a home game and in front of the T.V. for any team I can watch.
I have to watch myself or I’ll be one of those crazies who paint their stomachs and scream like banshees into the camera on the front row of the stands.
What makes people act so crazy at sports events?
And why do we find this type of behavior perfectly normal and acceptable in this particular context?
Anyone who painted their stomach and screamed random slogans at church or in the office or at the grocery store would be thought to be insane.
And we Americans do not do well with insanity.
You can have almost any medical problem in the world and still be taken seriously and treated like a human being, except for mental illness.
Why is that? Continue reading