By Mike Day

Unlike last year’s Super Bowl where we naively thought our world would remain the same as a virus, labeled Covid-19, began to get a little attention, this Super Bowl will remind us what has transpired over these past 12 months. Rather than a packed stadium at game time and parties held in homes and sports bars throughout our nation, the Tampa Bay stadium will be limited to 22,000 fans, and parties will be reduced to individual families or couples.

In the past years, I’ve gathered with friends to enjoy snacks and laughter, and watch ridiculously expensive commercials with singing frogs or the iconic Clydesdale horses. The first half of the game served as a prelude for the halftime show. After the Janet Jackson mishap, most of us tuned in to the performance anticipating another wardrobe malfunction. By the end of the third quarter, most of us had seen enough football and heard more than enough commentating. Unless the game was a nail biter, we usually called it a night and decided we could wait until morning to see the final score.

This year’s game pits a 43-year-old quarterback making his 10th appearance in the big game against a 25-year-old quarterback who could probably do three back somersaults before throwing a touchdown pass to his tight end. This year, however, I’m not setting my DVR to watch one of the future Hall of Fame quarterbacks or even catch some crazy advertisement. Yes, I’ll watch most of the game and even catch a few of the commercials, but my primary attention will be on a poet who will speak before the game.

Twenty-two-year-old wordsmith, Amanda Gorman, has been slated to address the partially packed stadium and the one hundred million television viewers. This poet stirred the audience at the presidential inauguration and will be given a larger platform to stir the hearts and minds of people all over the world. As a speaker and writer, I’m fascinated by words, especially by someone who applies the spoken word to capture imagination and communicate an inspirational message.

At the time of last year’s Super Bowl, we had no idea the heartache and pain the next 12 months would bring us. A little-known virus from 2019 spread its deadly sting into every corner of our nation and across the world. Sparks of differences and division that have always existed in our country ignited into riots and killings from the west coast to the east and even to our nation’s capital.

This Sunday, I’m cheering for a Super Bowl victory. More than rooting for the vintage Brady or the dynamic Mahomes, I’m throwing a Hail Mary, hoping that more of us will realize that we are all on the same team. We are imperfect human beings that live in the greatest country on earth. Our potential is greater than our problems. Yes, we will always have our disagreements and differences, but what unites us will be the foundation for our brighter future. So, this Super Bowl Sunday, rather than cheering for a player or a team, I’m cheering for a poet and a people.

Mike Day is the pastor of Celebration Church.

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