We Got Game

How Sports Took Over American Culture

But there is an order, especially in football, our most hierarchical game. Its chief architect, Walter Camp, meant the sport to be that way. A business executive turned journalist, Camp refitted this 19th-century game, modeling it on the efficient corporation, with a powerful coach and a squad of men arranged so that some used brains and others brawn, each player selected for the task that suited his "natural" abilities. (This suggests why coaches of color are so rare: White fans still prefer the black body to the black mind.) Camp couldn't have guessed in 1913 that football would become the ultimate postmodern epic: a game of heroes in a world of tight formations, where the real power resides off the field.

So what are we celebrating when we huddle around the home entertainment center on Super Bowl Sunday? The purity of the game? The sanctity of the self? Or everything we are not?

Research intern: Joshua Lefkowitz

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