The Stupor Bowl

Leaving the Field and Stalling on the Couch

Every January, millions of Americans, as well as millions around the world, will come together in homes, bars, and clubs to celebrate what is called the
greatest sporting event of the year
. Of course I am talking about the Super Bowl , that annual display of athleticism where 80 conditioned men put their hearts and souls into a game they love, all the while being watched by millions upon millions of people, many of whom probably could not tell you the last time they themselves picked up any ball, let alone a football.

That is the great irony of the Super Bowl. While bringing together the best two teams of athletes that the NFL can produce (at least during this particular year), showcasing their talent and abilities, the Super Bowl also cultivates over-indulgence and laziness in the rest of us. For weeks before, we are bombarded with messages–-through advertising as well as mainstream media–-that we should gather together with friends on couches, bar stools, and Lay-Z-Boys to watch the big games, all the while consuming mass quantities of beer and cheese doodles.

By no means am I innocent of this behavior. I will admit that there have been a few Super Bowls where the outcome for me wasn’t nearly as important as the number of hot dogs consumed.

In reality, the Super Bowl is only one example of how people no longer directly participate in sporting events, but do so vicariously through those they watch. The best example of this is the huge market in “fantasy” or “rotisserie sports.” For those of you not familiar with this “sport,” a group of people gather together prior to the start of a professional season and select players to build their own “teams.” Then during the season, each fantasy team’s performance is based on how its players fare in the real world. Often there is some prize at the end of the season to the participant who put together the best team.

>Whether it be the Super Bowl, fantasy sports, or any other similar activity, what has happened to a lot of people is they no longer take the time to actively participate in a sport themselves, preferring to watch others do it for them. This is truly a shame.

Without getting into the whole health debate about being an active person, when we allow ourselves to get caught up in the business and hoopla of sporting events, we lose the drive and excitement that comes with actual physical activity. We have forgotten that sports are meant to be played, and that playing can be fun and rewarding. When we actively participate in a sport–even something as simple as playing catch or Frisbee with friends–we are taking part in a group or community activity, one that can build on old friendships and establish new bonds.

We also learn to appreciate the life and world that God has given us to a greater extent–-certainly more so than can be done by sitting on a couch.