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COMMENTARY: Super Bowl LI showcases peaks, valleys of sports fandom

first_imgEver since sports have been around, they have resembled life. The games we all love so much can breed contempt and misery, but they can also breed intemperate happiness — or anything in between. In few cases has this been as evident as it was during the New England Patriots’ 34-28 win over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI on Sunday.The Patriots are now, by any measure, the most dominant franchise in American sports. They have now won five Super Bowls. They have both the best quarterback and head coach in NFL history. They have what every fan base across the globe wishes it had, and there’s no reason to believe they won’t keep winning. Even when the odds made it seem impossible, the Patriots snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.Even in New England, an age-old region that brings together people from different states, cultures, political beliefs, religious backgrounds and daily livelihoods, sports are unifying. From Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., to the far reaches of Downeast Maine, Aroostook County and the rest of the Pine Tree State, the Patriots are as much a part of New England’s lifeblood as lobster and clam chowder. On Sunday, the region got to celebrate a title again.On the other side of the spectrum were the Falcons, a team that had never won a title in 51 years of existence. In essence, the Falcons are what the Patriots were before Bill Belichick and Tom Brady arrived — they’re often talented, but they’ve always seemed to squander their chances when they’ve had the tools to go all the way. They did so again Sunday when they let a 28-3 lead disappear in the second half. It’s hard to imagine how a defeat could be more crushing.This is placeholder textThis is placeholder textSports happen like this. Sure, there are times when they can be predictable, but those moments aren’t the ones we remember. What we do remember is how sports take scenarios that seem unimaginable to us and make them realities in a matter of hours, minutes or seconds. Sports are real life unfolding before us, and that real life is just as prone to changing in a mere instant as Super Bowl LI.Yet sports, like life, will always go on. The games we play and watch can bring about a variety of emotions, but those emotions don’t last forever. There will always be another game, and there will always be another season. Don’t believe that? Look at the long, seemingly endless title droughts the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Cubs have overcome over the past year. Even when all seems lost, we hold out hope that the best possible scenario will unfold.That’s what being a sports fan is all about. Just as there will be a day when Brady and Belichick no longer roam the sidelines in Foxborough, there will be a day when your son or daughter — or those of your relatives, neighbors and friends — will no longer compete on the field, court or track as the community watches. We all fear those moments being over because we want them to last forever. At the same time, the fact that they don’t last forever is what makes us cherish them so much in the first place.Time has a great way of giving us perspective. Even the most passionate New England fans will experience in their lives something more joyful than the Patriots winning the Super Bowl, and Atlanta fans of five decades will experience something worse than the Falcons losing. It might have been hard for fans of both teams to believe that as James White broke the plane to give the Patriots the win on Sunday, but those emotions are only temporary. In football and in life, there will always be the chance for something new. Ellsworth runners compete in virtual Boston Marathon – September 16, 2020 Latest posts by Mike Mandell (see all) Latest Posts Biocenter_img Hospice volunteers help families navigate grief and find hope – September 12, 2020 Mike MandellMike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at [email protected] MPA approves golf, XC, field hockey, soccer; football, volleyball moved to spring – September 10, 2020last_img read more