What Pro Football Fans Really Want.
Pro football has returned to solid footing, starting with last weekend’s playoff games. Go figure, it’s the action on the field that’s doing it. Aside from the inevitable outcome associated with Brady and the Patriots, the games went down to the wire, capped with the Vikings’ walk-off win.
Games like these give us a good look at what makes fanatics tick. The ebb and flow of a high-stakes, seesaw game creates a mind-altering cocktail of adrenaline and stress called eustress, a measurable — and addictive — phenomenon not unlike what thrill seekers get when they bungee jump or hang glide.
Sports fanaticism also creates a sense of identity. We connect with our team and certain players. Their success is our success. We share their failures, as well.
But mostly, football fans want a relationship with the sport and its players they can believe in. Now and then, we get that from the greatest team sport ever invented, events that keep us invested in the game and wanting more.
Consider the best of many great stories from last weekend’s Minnesota-New Orleans game. Thomas Morstead is the Saints punter. He suffered a severe rib injury early in the contest, but the Saints had no other option at that position. So Morstead played through the pain when called upon. Then, when most of his Saints teammates retreated to the locker room following the Vikings improbable, game-winning TD, Morstead lined up on defense for the required final kneel-down so the game could be officially wrapped.
End of the story? Hardly. Certainly giddy with their victory, Vikings fans were also generously inspired by Morstead’s courage and sportsmanship, so much so that Vikes fans organized through social media to donate over $200k to Morstead’s New Orleans-based charity within days after the game. And it doesn’t end there.
Morstead was so moved by the opposing team’s fans that he announced he would personally fly that money back and donate it to a Minneapolis children’s hospital before the Super Bowl. Morstead’s coach, Sean Payton, got in on the fun also.
This is teamwork, delivered pro football style.
Football’s not dead. Teamwork’s not dead. Best of all, it’s good to see the fans step up and show pro football what they want. That’s fandom at a championship level.
Damn, I feel proud to be a pro football fanatic again.