Rites of the Stadium

by Peter J. Leithart 11 . 19 . 15 

Modern sports are not simple competition between the two teams. If they were only about physical competition, games would be shorter, less glitzy, less energetic.
Sports are ritualized events, liturgies. The crowd’s behavior is deliberately intensified with ritual elements – with mascots who emblemize the team, with fight songs that energize and bind the fans into a single singing unit, with the moments of drama like the team’s bursting through the paper barrier as they come onto the field from the lockerrom for the first time, halftime entertainments.
At higher levels, the ritual gets more complex. The Super Bowl is the great annual rite of America’s athletic-military-entertainment complex. The game is integrated into the American dream not only by the singing of the national anthem, but by the F16 flyover. Halftime is extended to make room for popular celebrity singers to perform to raucous crowds. You don’t have to be at the game to participate: You can have your Super Bowl party and enjoy what the live spectators cannot, the Super Bowl commercials.

Read more at: http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/leithart/2015/11/rites-of-the-stadium


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