In Praise of Super Bowl Sunday
Pyrrhic Writer Jasmine Ledesma Reflects On The Biggest Game Of The Year
There is something wondrous happening on earth this afternoon. None other than the 56th Super Bowl.
A Game to Remember
A couple of years ago, I went to my first and only football game. My aunt came from her mountain mansion in Arizona to visit us in Texas with the intent of seeing a game in Dallas. My brothers and I tagged along.
As we drove past greening fields and truck stops, a sense of anticipation grew within me. Right there at my fingertips. The feeling continued as we made it into the stadium and finally into our seats overlooking the field.
It was overwhelming.
All around us, people were shirtless and loud and bearded and weeping. I had no idea what anything meant.
“Is that good?” I continuously asked my brother as those around us cheered, as a man threw a ball sideways, and the red shirts flurried past us.
His explanations did me no good. I couldn’t wrap my head around the mathematics of the field. But even in my stupefied slouch I still found myself with a quick thumping in my heart—engrossed by the feeling that I was watching something awe-inspiring.
The game playing out on the field below me was larger than myself and the people around us. Perhaps it was the all-encompassing noise of screams, cheers, and chants that never quite stopped even after the game concluded. The rush of energy plowed through the crowd like a wildfire.
Whatever it was, I felt it.
Super Bowl LVI
Today the game is pitching the Los Angeles Rams vs the Cincinnati Bengals. The game is to take place within the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood California, a newly built stadium with a curved glass ceiling for added sunlight and reinforced with the possibility of earthquakes in mind.
From an aerial view, the stadium appears like that of a spaceship – the white, circular building coming to a steadfast point. Over 70,000 fans will bustle into the stadium to watch the game unfold today. They come in crashing through doorways.
Inglewood is a city in Los Angeles County that was, before the building of the SoFi stadium, best known for the historical Hollywood Park horse-racing track, a patch of land upon which the SoFi stadium is in fact built.
This Game Day is Ingelwood’s inauguration into the future.
Game Day Magic
Game Day is a day for humans. It is a day where you can neglect everything in favor of a bonafide, deserved celebration. All of the reporters speak faster on Game Day—their syllables are more accentuated than usual.
It isn’t the day of murder-suicides or outbreaks or storms. It is the Day of wins and combat. It is a day where drunkards are allowed to get drunk off of spiked lemonades and makeshift mimosas, where women down twice more than the men, and where children can run across the house like amphetamine-driven dragonflies without consequence.
The Beauty of Football
Football is the ultimate American pastime. It is as American as you can get without cruising down tornado alley with a chocolate milkshake and a pretty girl to your side, crooning along to the King. For some, it is as close as they can get to religion.
Football is a mathematical equation to which I do not have the answer. Football is a beautiful sport. It's a mosh of players running—almost catching flight at times—across the evergreen field like sperm cells seeking the egg that will give them breath. It's the ring of nonstop applause coming forth from the audience. It's the Close-ups of super fans—faces painted in team colors, streaked in harsh blues and lines, the paint gone gummy and dribbling from the sunlight and sweat.
The players themselves are pristine— bombastic, speeding blurs with hands stretched out. Tumbling and orbiting among one another, spearing the ball towards the coveted goalpost. There is a sense of grace in the way they play.
Football games are melodramas, pieces of live theater in which the stakes are high and the emotions run deep. There are villains and heroes. There is sensation and plot. Even Shakespeare would get caught up in the show—finding lots to admire.
It is also a shockingly timeless game. Perhaps this is what drives some of the obsession of die-hard fans—the fact that even as America chews herself up and spits herself out, even as she is divided and recolored, the game remains a constant. Hardly at all touched by the otherwise overt facets of modernity we have woven into our everyday lives. As it was years ago during the first Super Bowl in 1967, the field is still 120 yards long and 53 1/3 yards wide, the crowd still enthused, and the players still gorgeous as they sprint back and forth between passes spiraling through the air.
The game stays the same.
Time for Kickoff
I watch the pregame news coverage with a fascination typically reserved for slightly disturbing documentaries in the middle of the night. Someone in a blue suit says, “This will be a safe and secure game,” which automatically leads me to suspect otherwise. My father turns the volume up and then up again. I sip at my coffee. The No-Fly Zone of SoFi is considered within one mile of the stadium.
“Are you excited for this?” a news anchor asks another— her voice going up an octave, her face stretched into the shape of glee. Her partner pauses.
“It’s finally here,” he says with a strange, haunting finality. And pulls out his novelty soda-drinking hat.
Check out our Super Bowl LVI Preview as you sit down to enjoy game day.
Jasmine Ledesma is both a writer based in New York and a Pyrrhic contributor. Her work has appeared in or is set to appear in places such as Crazyhorse, Rattle, and [PANK] among others. Her work was nominated for both Best of The Net and the Pushcart Prize in 2020. She was named a Brooklyn Poets fellow in 2021.