Does anyone need a week off more than Sean Payton? (Photo Credit: Todd Kirkland/Icon SMI)
A long, enjoyable cup of coffee. A leisurely trip to the grocery store. Slowly leafing through the newspaper. This is not my Christmas list...this is the bye week. That one time a year when players and fans get a well-deserved break from the white-knuckled, heart-stopping contests that we masochistically endure for 17 weeks.
I’m not exaggerating. I wish my weekend activities (and a significant portion of weekday) didn’t revolve around the Saints games, but they do. After last week’s nail-biting battle, I breathed a sigh of relief knowing I would get this Sunday “off”. I looked at my husband – who was equally as frazzled and anxiety-ridden - and said, “why do I care so much”?
The obvious answer centers around fan loyalty. We all get a little fanatical about out teams and take our wins and losses to heart each week. But if you peel back the onion, there is much more.
Football and sports in general are important to our society because they are systems based on fairness. The teams that work hardest, are the most prepared, and make the fewest mistakes should win. In football, there is a level playing field –the draft system and salary caps ensure that any team can win the grand prize. There are rules and they are enforced (most of the time!). The rewards system is clear and based on performance – play well and you will get home field advantage and a first round bye.
In addition to fairness, football offers escapism. The news is dominated by “Super Committees” that are super childish, horrific crimes where perpetrators go free, and Kardashian heartache that makes us all wish their 15 minutes of fame was up. It is not to suggest that football is not without its fair share of disappointment. The Penn State scandal is a constant reminder that tragedy can happen anywhere, anytime. But for three hours a week, on the field of play, there is fairness in a world that is anything but fair.
So while I have enjoyed a Sunday without angst and alarm, I also find myself ready for my team to take the field. As it turns out, football can be the calmest, most sensible part of the week.