Sunday’s Super Bowl game, which was without a doubt one of the single greatest sporting events in the history of sports, should serve as a reminder to EVERYONE why we love and embrace sports in our society. If you’re a Falcons fan, I’m sorry. Us Patriots fans have been there before (shoutout to David Tyree) and we know your pain. But more importantly, if you’re a fan of sports, and if you’re a fan of watching the best kind of competition at the highest level in the world, then you should consider yourself lucky to have watched Super Bowl LI.
You got to witness the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, led by the greatest quarterback in NFL history. Julian Edelman made what is sure to become one of the most iconic catches in Super Bowl history, a play that made everyone think what no one wanted to say: “The Patriots are going to win this thing.” There’s no other way it could have gone down. This game crushed your spirits and hopes, only to revive them in the most glorious and enthralling way possible.
If you were on the wrong side of the joyous comeback, then you felt something all too common in sports: dejection, heartbreak, and anguish following what can only be described as the unshakeable security of knowing your team at one point had a 25-point lead over your opponent. By any statistic, the Patriots shouldn’t have won. In fact, a statistic that predicts exactly that, a team’s chance of winning, exists. According to an ESPN graph that tracked both team’s chances of winning in real time, the Falcons had a 99.6 percent chance of winning at one point in the game. They held a significant statistical advantage for the better part of three quarters.
And this is why we love sports. In an age where so many decisions and opinions in the sporting world are informed based solely on analytics and what the numbers tell us, Sunday’s game reminded us that there are still miraculous moments out there that simply defy numbers. Just as records are set only to be broken, deficits are made to be erased, and teams are dug into holes only to grind their way out of them. The Cavs showed us that a 3-1 series lead is built up only to be torn down. The Cubs proved to us that although it may take more than a century to get to the top, it will happen. The Patriots threw the statistics out the door, and clawed back to cement their legacy as one of the most powerful sports dynasties of all time.
In my mind, there are no “storybook moments” in sports. Storybooks are made up, and sports are real. We love them because they reflect our realities in a surprisingly visceral way. Sports force us to believe, through ups and downs and years of doubt in our teams. In the end, some of us win and some of us lose, but there’s always next season. What’s nice about being a Patriots fan is that they happen to win more than they lose.