What is the Telos of the Super Bowl?

There are many among you who have diverse reactions to the results of the Fifty-first Super Bowl and the miraculous comeback by the Patriots. I do not follow any sports regularly and I only watch half the Super Bowls, but they are often very good, so I happened to watch last night.

My rule is that I always root for the underdog, and perhaps whoever is from the South, so I started out rooting for the Falcons and was very happy that they dominated the first half.

After that, I started rooting for the Pats, since nothing is more inspiring than a comeback. Two years ago I rooted for the Seahawks in their comeback, which was then reversed at the last minute by the epic talents of the Pats. To me, that was what sports is all about.

It is miraculous that people can find the nerve to comeback against such odds under such pressure. I am reminded of Castro and Che after they were reduced to 22 men but then went on to conquer Cuba. Also Ho Chi Minh, Mao, George Washington, King Henry V, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, et cetera. Also dear to my heart is King Alfred the Great, whose comeback against the Dane started with one castle (the one that “fell into the swamp” lol).

These people had the nerve to persevere even when everything looked bleak and they were up against overwhelming odds. It is this that makes humans admire sports heroes. The physical skills are certainly useful for our ancestors, but the character and leadership qualities of team sports are clearly what is needed for the tribe to defend their turf against the Vikings, the Medes, Americans, France, Prussians or whoever.

And that is what we want; no matter what your calling in life, you need territory and access to resources which must be defended by people. And these people need to be led by someone who can rally their team from behind like we saw last night. In this sense it is no surprise that humans have evolved to love sports more than they do other pastimes that also demonstrate useful traits.

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