Sunday, February 3, 2019


Why does it matter to me what 53 people in Atlanta do in six hours?

Yesterday morning I went to my favorite grocery store. It opens at 7 am, and I am an early riser.  It is not only my favorite store, people from several municipalities shop there. It's big and bright, always has a bunch of check out counters; has its own bakery and sandwich shops; typically one item or another of a particular ilk is on sale--coke not on sale, pepsi is on sale, peets coffee not sale, starbucks is on sale.  And they make very good jelly doughnuts, that are--predictably--freshest within a half hour of the store's opening. I have indulged on more than one occasion.

Yesterday at 7, the store was more crowded than usual.  And nearly one out of every three people was wearing some sort of New England Patriot garb.  Patriot hats, sweatshirts, sweatpants, caps.  Little babies with Patriot onesies. The store had Patriot balloons and banners at the front, it seemed to me, of every aisle.  People who looked like my grandmother, hardly a sports fan, were attired in Patriots colors.

This morning we went out for breakfast. Our regular haunt had Patriot paraphernalia all over the place. Again, the customers were wearing the colors. The tvs were blasting superbowl this and that. The chatter in the place was about the Patriots. The newspapers scattered about had Patriot stories.

Last night I found myself at the Marriott sports bar downtown. Very big place. Lots of tvs. I sat between a fellow who was eating the largest hot dog I have ever seen, and a man with a heavy brogue.  I began chatting with the fellow with the brogue. He was in town for the super bowl game. Now the game is being played in Atlanta, but he had flown in from Ireland to be with his friends in Boston who were watching the game. This man from Ireland knew more about Patriot history and this past season than I do, and I am no slouch in this department. He also was a fan of the Red Sox. This was his third flight to Boston in the last six months to watch Patriot or Red Sox games.

Why do we care?

The city is so abuzz with the New England Patriots. You might think we should be ho hum. After all the Patriot success is nothing short of remarkable. We have (note the pronoun) been to the super bowl 9 times in 18 years.  For comparison sake, the last time the New York Jets were in the super bowl Richard Nixon was president. The last time the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns were in the super bowl was never.  Never in 52 years. The Patriots have played in this game 9 times in 18 years.

Why do we care?

People who are sports fanatics are often told to "get a life."

But what is so wrong with having an enthusiasm for a team such that an entire community becomes joyously abuzz in anticipation of a season or a four hour event?  Not everyone has to be a fan of sport and one is not malnourished if they find sports a silly way to spend time. But one has to invest their emotional energy in something in the same way that sports fans invest their energy in sports.  Politics, coin collection, social causes, philately, architecture. Something.  We all need to be able to get excited about something. Folks who have no interest in, or excited enthusiasm for, anything would be wise  to get a life.

Sure, it does not matter in terms of anything tangible whether the Patriots win this game. But a lot of people will be happy tomorrow in New England if we, er they, are victorious.

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