The main reason for playing sports, or being a fan of a team, is usually because it’s fun. It’s fun to run around and throw a football, it’s fun to watch your favourite team play on Sunday, it’s fun to follow some of the best athletes via your fantasy team. Sure, there are moments of anxiety and stress — that interception, the clock winding down, the heartbreak of missing the playoffs. But, no matter what sport it is, it should come back to fun. Once you get over the heartbreaks, you have to remember what you love.
This year, the NFL got it right on a number of occasions on Super Bowl Sunday. The ‘NFL 100’ commercial (the ‘next 100’) was the big winner of the night. Last year, during Super Bowl 54, the ‘NFL 100’ commercial was a hit, but the sequel was much better. This year’s commercial followed a young football player (Maxwell ‘Bunchie’ Young) running with the ball and being cheered on by many current and former NFL players. As the commercial finishes, it segue back into the live broadcast, where Young, followed by other kids from the commercial, run onto the field at Hard Rock Stadium. Young brings the game ball to the official at midfield as he then joins the rest of the kids in hyping up the crowd.
I think the involvement of young kids, whether they’re in the spotlight (like Young) or not, is a great way to celebrate one of the biggest sporting events of the year. At the grassroots level, every kid is looking for an athlete to look up to. Why not get the kids involved in the pre-game? Regardless of the flash and all the money that goes into professional sports, at the end of the day those athletes give hope to every young kid who has a dream of making it to ‘the show’ — whether it’s football, baseball, hockey, basketball, soccer or anything in between. It all comes back to the group that is in the spotlight, inspiring the kids who have laced up for the first time.
The NFL got it right by involving kids in the opening ceremonies. They made a life long memory for those kids, something other leagues should follow.