The New England Patriots lost the Super Bowl, and life here is no worse for it, just as life would not be any better had they won.
Still, there was that collective groan from the guys watching at the Post, the students watching in the bars, the restaurant workers watching from behind the counter, the many residents watching in their homes. It makes a difference somehow.
It’s easy to snicker at guys making millions for chucking a ball around for no real reason. But of course, they are paid millions because there is a reason. Sports matters precisely because it doesn’t matter.
Sports is a piece of theater that brings crystal clarity to the murk of real life. It’s a place where hard work and talent get clear rewards. It’s a place where the role of luck is laid bare and made easy to see. It’s a place where everybody plays by the same rules and, no matter how much they batter each other, shakes hands in the end.
Most of all, sports is a place where someone definitely wins and someone definitely loses. Life rarely offers us that kind of purity. None of us literally lost that game, but our guys did—a pure, abject kind of loss that can be unsettling.
But the theater of sports offers us a balm for that, too: There’s always next season.