I think that football may be the ultimate team sport. I can think of no other game where the players are more dependent on their teammates for success. Is it possible that football is also an ultimate story? This post is inspired by the discussions of football as entertainment and entertainment is all about the story. I know that this is off the beaten trail, but it's a bye week. What can I say?
It has been postulated that there are only seven stories: tragedy, comedy, overcoming the monster, voyage and return, quest, rags to riches, and rebirth. I'm going to suggest that football is an ultimate story because it gives us all seven of the possible stories in many different forms.
I doubt that there is anybody here who hasn't heard the NFL described as “the quest for the Lombardi trophy.” That is the premier story for each season, the Holy Grail of football. Super Bowl Sunday, when the winner receives the Lombardi trophy, is a De facto national holiday. We love to repeat the story, with variations, every year.
There are so many overcoming the monster subplots that I can't name them all. My favorite is the fourth quarter comeback. I think the underdog, the upset victory, and the personal battle against a monster player all fit into this storyline.
When I think of tragedy, I'll always think of Joe Theismann's career ending broken leg on Monday night football. There are so many more.
There are whole programs made up of bloopers and football follies. However, my favorite bit of football comedy is Shannon Sharpe on a Monday night in Foxborough picking up the phone and saying: “Mr. President, call out the National Guard. The Broncos are killing the Patriots!” I still get a smile when I think of it. What's your favorite bit of football comedy?
Every game, the teams march up and down the field in a subtle subplot of voyage and return. Also each road trip is a story of voyage and return. How many can remember when the fans meeting the Bronco's plane at Stapleton regularly made the local TV sports news?
How many rags to riches stories are there every year in the NFL? We love hearing each personal story of a poor childhood followed by the riches an NFL career brings. I just wish that more of them handled it better.
Finally, there's the story that we're all so caught up in right now. The rebirth of the Denver Broncos. Every season for every team there is a story of rebirth. It's just more dramatic when you're building from the bottom.
We watch football for many different reasons. We all love the stories and have our favorites. We love the drama and the comedy. Yes, I think that one reason we love football is because it is an ultimate story.
Is football an ultimate story? An English teacher or a Literature major might consider this sacrilege and flame me. What do you think?