I Am Your 2018 Super Bowl Champion
The Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl. Why the hell does that make me feel like a winner?
Header courtesy of EA
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It's been a pretty good week for me so far. If you caught our Monster Hunter stream on Monday or that evening's Waypoint Radio, or if you followed my Twitter thread on Sunday, you can probably guess that the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl win is a big part of that. And, because I'm the person I am, I've spent a lot of time over the past couple of days thinking about how and why that is.
After all, I didn't contribute to this win in any direct or indirect way. Even arguments about "the energy of the crowd" fall flat: I haven't seen the Eagles live since the mid 2000s, just after their current stadium opened, so it hasn't been my cheers roaring them on. In fact, my fandom hasn't even looked much like cheering... well, until this response to forced fumble in the final minutes of the game, anyway:
In fact, my fandom this year has been the opposite of cheering. It's been restrained, conflicted, and always qualified with caveats about my frustration with the sport and league. No matter how much I love a breakout run or a perfectly aimed pass or a blitz that takes apart the offensive line, there's a lot to make one ambivalent to the NFL: from the ongoing CTE crisis, to the grossness of team owners, to the long history of the league's anti-worker positions (especially when those workers are cheerleaders), to the sport's general proximity to so much toxic, macho bullshit.
What's fascinating to me isn't that this year's Eagles team captivated me—they play exactly the sort of offense I love to see, and there's a great deal of capital L Lore that makes their underdog victory even sweeter than it should be—it's that despite all of my cautious distance, despite not doing a damn thing, when they won, I felt like I won.
Which honestly, felt a little grimy at first. That sort of of personal association with the work of others has always rubbed me the wrong way. But then, in hearing Eagle after Eagle talk about "bringing home" the Championship, about "giving this to the fans," I started thinking about community and communal victory. After all, didn't y'all cheer for me when I made it through Eventide Island? Didn't I share Patrick's sense of defeat when his three-part battle with Dan Ryckert finally came to a tragic end.
I've done my best to try to remind folks over the years that, while I have lots of issues with sports culture, sports are games (and are, in fact, often really well designed games, too). The communal element of sports organizes social activity, provides a vector for joy, and simply gives us fun problems to work over with our minds—which play would you have called on that perfect Nick Foles fourth down conversion? Games do this too, and with the rise of let's plays and live streams, they do it more and more often.
So, open thread question for today: What's a time that you shared in the feeling of victory when watching a streamer, an LPer, or someone you know in real life accomplish a gaming feat. But more succinctly: When was a time when watching someone else win made you feel like a winner? Let me know over in the forums!