In some circles, I’ve noticed, people tend to give you strange looks when you mention that you’re not planning to watch the Super Bowl.
Regular readers of this blog may recall that I’ve become disenchanted with the NFL of late. And my dissatisfaction has led to a decision: No more pro football for this armchair quarterback – even if it means missing America’s most-watched television event.
I’m thinking that I picked the perfect year to ditch the sport: Had the League followed its longstanding tradition of using Roman numerals to label the games, this 50th anniversary edition would have been known to posterity as “Super Bowl L”.
As in “Loser.”
A definite non-starter in the hyper image-conscious (and insufferably pretentious) world of the NFL.
In my case, the offensive “L” could just as easily stand for “Lost Interest.” Following the local team’s relocation fiasco of 2015, I realized that I’d had quite enough of the NFL’s mendacity-in-service-of-greed.
There’s been a slow-dawning awareness, too, (through stories published in The Jesuit Post among other sources) of other deadly sins associated with the game (e.g., concussion, racism, sexual assault, drug abuse). Enough to warrant a uneasiness—that perhaps I was cooperating with evil whenever I tuned in.
So yeah: For a lot of reasons, I’m growing increasingly comfortable with my decision to pass on ‘Super Bowl L’…
…although I can’t honestly say I’ve come up with an alternative diversion.
Our recent trip to the Florida Keys pretty much throws cold water on that idea: Four-plus hours on the Gulf, and I managed to land just one fish: A tiny blue-runner that my host-and-guide quickly turned into bait to lure a bigger catch.
Still, as I cast about for a pro-football-replacement, I’m intrigued by the way a certain fishing story unfolds in the gospel we hear on Super Sunday. In the passage, Jesus suggests that profound blessings are possible when one pursues a counter-cultural path:
After [Jesus] had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”
Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,
but at your command I will lower the nets.” When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that the boats were in danger of sinking.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him…
Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.
Kinda makes me wonder: If I’m not letting the NFL turn me into a couch potato every Sunday afternoon, what might become of all that ‘found time’?
Where are the ‘deep waters’ in my life? And what might I discover there?
Wouldn’t it be a hoot to find that the ‘L’ stands for something entirely different than I first thought…like, say:
‘Super Bowl Liberation’
I do believe I’m going to enjoy trying that one on for size this weekend.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.