As a confirmed ectomorph whose defining deadly sin is sloth, athletic competition is not in my wheelhouse. I look upon soirees such as the coming Super Bowl with little more than anthropological interest. “How did that become a thing?” I ask myself. Well, not the Super Bowl itself. That I get — go big or go home. But how did football become a thing? Teams of armored giants employing group violence to move an inflated pigskin up and down a flat clearing. It seems an unlikely obsession.
But then I remember a winter’s day back in the ’70s, living in a semi-heated ramshackle with six other adults and a couple dogs. In the back of a back closet someone came across a stash of “boffers” – styrofoam bludgeons used in primal therapy – and suddenly we were all outside, waling on each other with all our might and rolling around with the barking dogs. And while the neighbors didn’t join in, they were delighted to watch. We could have sold tickets.
So that’s my theory. We have football because we have winter. That Afghan polo game with the goat carcass, same deal. All that suppressed energy, all that compressed companionship, the cold, the dark. It has to come out somewhere. That’s just thermodynamics.
Now I just need a theory to explain all those chicken wings.