Unless you live under a rock, you know that this past Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl. They beat out the five time Super Bowl Champions, the New England Patriots 41-33 to win their first Super Bowl in franchise history and the city of Philadelphia took it one step further. Collectively, they all got together and basically burned their city to the ground, in the best possible way. Honestly it was just a large scale version of what UConn students did with the campus after the amazing championship run and victory by the men’s and women’s basketball teams in 2014. And while making comparisons is fun, it was also a reminder of the unifying power of sports.
First and foremost, that Super Bowl was spectacular. Nick Foles, backup quarterback for the Eagles threw for 373 yards, scoring three touchdowns and was named Super Bowl MVP. And while the Patriots lost, Tom Brady threw for an impressive 505 yards, scoring three touchdowns as well. Brady also set a new record for most passing yards in a post-season game. And it should be reiterated that the Eagles won their first Super Bowl in franchise history. It took 52 years, but the Eagles finally did it and the City of Brotherly Love, as well as most of the country united around them in support.
This victory comes at the end (and maybe beginning) of a very rocky and divided political year. The election of Donald Trump showed many people that the country was not moving towards as bright of a future as many people hoped. This past summer, the country was stunned to see white supremacists and Neo-Nazis march in the streets of Charlottesville and murder a counter-protestor named Heather Heyer. In the past few months, the Republicans shut down the government because they wouldn’t stay true to their initial promises to help pass a clean Dream Act. They now have a few weeks to keep the government funded and pass that bill. Just last week, Trump attacked and blamed the FBI for of the problems he is experiencing as president.
And through all of this, the general population remains divided. Not a small divide either, in the 2016 election Hillary Clinton won 48.2 percent of the popular vote while Trump won 46.1 percent. That’s almost a perfect split down the middle.
But for a brief twelve hour window on Sunday, a lot of that didn’t matter. There was no Democrat vs. Republican divide. There was no right vs. wrong or racist vs. equality divide. For a brief moment it was just the Patriots vs. the Eagles, with most of New England and Minnesota routing for the Patriots and literally everyone else rooting for the Eagles. And everyone was united in their love for the sport.
This is nothing new for those in the world who are huge followers of sports and you don’t have to go to the national level to see this in action. One look at the comment section of any story about UConn would give the idea that the campus is in flames. There were justifiable riots in the wake of Lucian Wintrich coming to speak. Armed security was put in place to keep things in order during Ben Shapiro’s and Nathan Robinson’s dueling lecture night. But when it’s game night, all of that changes. Even with the drop in men’s basketball team, there was still a packed student section during the team’s loss to Cincinnati this past weekend. In the fall, the only thing the Goal Patrol cares about is pissing off the other team’s goalie. Nothing else happening in the world matters.
Sometimes the unifying factor is national pride. We are all going to see this in the next couple of weeks with the Olympic Games in South Korea. Sometimes the unifying factor is solidarity. NFL players protesting police brutality in the United States gained strength and power when non-football fans joined them in support.
The future still holds many problems. Trump seems hell-bent on dividing the country and pitting America against the rest of the world. Neo-Nazis seem to feel that it is now safe to walk the streets again because there are “fine people on both sides.” Sports cannot, will-not and should not be the solution for these problems. But the support people show when they unite together behind their team shouldn’t be ignored. Our goal for the future should be an environment where everyone is equal and can work together for a common goal. This year’s Super Bowl showed that maybe that future isn’t too far off.