It was 4:27 a.m. on Monday morning in London when I got home from watching Super Bowl LI at a local pub. When I finally reached my room in the early morning, I immediately grabbed my laptop and started writing this article, because I observed something during that game that I had to get down on paper. This observation had nothing to do with the miraculous comeback. This had nothing to do with Tom Brady or Bill Belichick’s legacies. This had nothing to do with Roger Goodell having to shake those men’s hands. This was an observation of the incredible moment when the world forgot.
I, like many people around the country and the world, find less and less enjoyment in politics on a daily basis. The past election cycle, and the recent events that have transpired during Trump’s presidency and in the rest of the world, drained every ounce of my energy for politics. It was no longer a fun intellectual exercise, but a chore that I felt obligated to do. At times, I felt as if I had no choice. Politics in the modern age is inescapable, from the use of social media as a platform for discussion, to its growing entanglement into things people like myself never wanted politics to be a part of. A prison made of walls of opinions and a steel cell door of anger and hate. And with the advent of this year’s Super Bowl, the imprisonment that I and others felt, continued. From constant chatter about President Trump’s close relationships with the New England Patriots’ players and staff, to as recent as the resounding boos Vice President Mike Pence received when shown during the pregame ceremonies in the pub where I watched. Politics was rearing its ugly head.
And then “God Bless America” started playing. And despite the fact that I didn’t much care for this year’s rendition, I felt a little inspired. And then Luke Bryan sang the national anthem, wonderfully, in its original form, just like my grandfather and I always liked it. And with that, my pride in being an American began to grow. Finally, when Lady Gaga opened the halftime show with another “God Bless America”, this pride blossomed again. I checked my Facebook feed shortly thereafter to find others posting about a similar sense. Posts about “saving 2017” and even “cleansing our souls”. It was uplifting to know that Americans might, at least ever so briefly, become united again.
The most miraculous part about this crazy and unprecedented night is that as soon as the second half started, and the world witnessed what could be the greatest comeback in sports history, nothing else mattered. Everything else fell away. The world simply forgot. Forgot about politics, forgot about differences, forgot about its problems. For everyone who just witnessed that game, they took part in something special that goes well beyond the game’s outcome, whether they were aware of it or not.
Walls were brought down. When the Patriots won, white people cheered with black people. People who spoke English cheered with people who knew only a sentence or two. People from different religions rejoiced together. People who had never met each other before, and will never see each other again, embraced in happiness. People who had seen their team lose, shook the hands of the fans whose team won, heads held high.
Super Bowl LI, along with many other events throughout history, made people around the world drunk with humanity, reveling in its intricacy and capacity to amaze. Citizens of the world, all who were lucky enough to watch this game, felt this feeling. Sports, among other things, has this power. Music, among other things, has this power. At the time this sentence was written, it was 5:00 a.m. in London. It was 12:00 a.m. in New York City. It was 9:00 p.m. in San Francisco. Whether or not people were turning to their loved ones and saying “Good Morning”, “Goodnight”, or “Good Evening”, we can all recognize a moment that spans across time. The moment the world forgot.