Election night “PTSD” is real, as a chunk of social media and I–not a football fan by any stretch–discovered last night. The New England Patriots made history in a comeback from my hometown Falcons’ massive lead and winning the first Super Bowl ever to go to overtime. Tom Brady is being lauded as “GOAT”–greatest of all time, for those of you who like me had no idea what that meant)–having won more Super Bowls than any other quarterback.
The 2016 election comparisons to last night’s game were obvious, bipartisan, and often comic relief. With all due respect to Pats fans, the Patriots are the “entitled billionaire” of pro football, the dominant bad guy that all the other fans love to hate. Leading up to the game, some called out the Patriots as the whitest NFL team in history, and reminded everyone of Brady and Bellicheck’s Trump connections. Falcons fans enjoyed relative security for the first two quarters, some gloating and citing the statistics that would later be defied. And oh, the tweets.
My Patriots-supporting brother wrote all these comparisons off as silly, and he is right. This is a game. But as my team’s lead eroded in the face of fan and commentator overconfidence, I began to realize that I desperately needed a win to cling to, however symbolic.
I don’t know many Jews who pray seriously about sports (though perhaps we should consider it since our president prays for reality television show ratings), but we do pray for our country and for the state of Israel. This prayer is included on Shabbat when it is traditional not to make personal requests of G-d, and the related sections of the Amidah making are removed. Benevolent government and residents’ desire for peace and inclusion, our liturgy recognizes, is absolutely critical to our survival, 24/7.
For those who feel symbolically, here’s the punchline: despite the night’s devastating tally on the field, Super Bowl LI was the Jewish prayer for our country, spoken defiantly from the lips of those that just might have the power to protect this reality. Companies more and less known purchased coveted ad space and used it to “waken the spirit within all inhabitants of our land, and plant among the peoples of different nationalities and faiths who dwell here, love and brotherhood, peace and friendship.”
On some level, I am glad the Patriots won. Perhaps Trump’s preferred outcome will spare us a presidential tweetstorm retaliating against the businesses that dared subtweet him. But more importantly, as Lady Gaga’s stubborn reclaiming of patriotic anthems establishes, those of us who want a compassionate and tolerant country are the real patriots, and the patriots won.