Super Bowl XLSIKFIII occurred this past Sunday. (For those of you unfamiliar with this event, just picture the World Men’s Curling Championship, but with a few more concussions and a lot less television coverage.) I, like many others, celebrate this annual event by spending the day with family and friends, eating large amounts of food, and waiting for Roger Goodell to come down the chimney bearing flat-brimmed hats and NFL jerseys.
This year’s Super Bowl has lingered in my thoughts for the past day or two (and not just because my instagram feed is full of pictures of Rob Gronkowski sticking his tongue out yelling what I can only assume would be “GRONK!!!”). So with that lingering, I figured I should hurry up and write something about it…so I can go viral and inevitably be picked up by Grantland to become a professional blogger (what I am now coining a “Prologger”…you’re welcome). Then I can start carrying a leather satchel, calling bags satchels, and wearing tweed jackets with professor patches.
The most difficult part of the Super Bowl L-1 is that I am a Seahawks fan. Well, more than that really, I am a Seattle sports team fan. I’m from Seattle; Kirkland actually, home of the Signature batteries in your remote. And, being from Seattle and liking Seattle sports teams often means you like losing teams who have never won a world championship. It means your favorite baseball team ties the record for most wins in a season just to lose to the Yankees in the first round of the post-season. It means you have memories of watching the house band sing “Brick House” to you and 30 other late-90’s Seahawks fans in the Kingdome. Generally speaking, it just means a lot of pain and disappointment.
Or at least, it used to mean a lot of disappoinment. But last year, that all changed. Last year, the Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos’ High School scrimmage team in Super Bowl followed by Roman Numerals. Suddenly, there was reason to hope that Seattle teams might be able to make something of themselves; that the Mariners could be more than just a farm-team for the Yankees; that the Supersonics could come back into existence; that, dare I say, the Seahawks could win 2 Super Bowls in a row and have the beginnings of a dynasty. And, until 23 seconds left in #SB49 (don’t try clicking on that…the # was just for effect), it looked as though that was going to happen. Instead, this happened:
Oh man, what a disappointment. Mere seconds earlier, the Gods of the ‘borrowed’ Texas A&M slogan answered the prayers of 12th Mans everywhere to somehow put the ball into Kearse’s bobbling hands (thighs, really) only to have some guy on the Patriots intercept a really well-thought out play. My brother, not a Seahawks fan, jumped up and yelled “Beautiful!” I can only assume he was referring to this:
I, on the other hand, sat with my hands covering my eyes for a few minutes letting the misery wash over me (and to have one more good cry over all the ‘be a good dad’ commercials). Then, after the initial shock wore off (which was aided by the Seahawks starting a super-classy fight) and I took comfort in the cold desperation of my all-too-familiar mistress, losing, I realized that this was actually a really good football game. It was evenly matched and well played by both teams. I really enjoyed watching it. I turned to my friend Dave, who was still not fully recovered:
I told him I would rather have this Super Bowl, even with the loss, than the wining game last year against the Denver Broncos Vocational Institute. Dave seemed dumbfounded that I could say such a thing. I, being an excellent therapist adept at reading blank stares said, “I’m a Seahawks fan, but I’m also a fan of football; this was a good football game.” With an I’m-taking-my-ball-and-I’m-going-home tone, he said, “Well, I guess you’re a bigger football fan than Seahawks fan.”
Maybe Dave is right; maybe I value a good football game over winning. I like the ups and downs of a good game. When it’s lopsided, it has no impact. It feels like running a marathon (I know, because I’ve once wondered what that would be like) and finishing and saying, “Huh, I thought that would be harder. Welp. Who want’s to get some McDonald’s?” A win without struggle lacks depth.
In many respects, I feel the same way about happiness. We live in a culture that is inseparably connected with the idea of happiness; it’s woven into the Preamble to the US Declaration of Independence. Unfortunately, many of us misunderstand what happiness means. Most of us believe that happiness is a life without pain, sorrow, sadness, struggle, challenges, hurt–we believe that if we were truly happy, we would feel good all the time and be in a constant good mood. But, if that were our experience of happiness, it would cease to be happiness; it would just be existence. Viktor Frankl proposed that happiness is not about ease or comfort or good times, but about depth and meaning. We know happiness because we know misery. The deeper our pain, the more exquisite our joy (what? I can use the word exquisite in a blog about football). Winning is empty when the mighty Seattle Seahawks pummel the Denver Broncos Prep Academy. It’s depth and meaning, struggle and loss, challenge and victory that should define our happiness, not just a W in the W-L category.
The more we can see the value in depth and meaning, the more happiness we can feel in life.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to see if Roger Goodell left a Toblerone in my stocking.
Rob Porter, Ph.D., LMFT
Marriage and Family Therapist, Fan of Losing, Round Rock, TX