It’s Time to Get Tribal — and Watch Some Football

By Joe Darby

Dear readers, it is now fall — by the calendar if not by the temperature — and that means footballs are filling the air all over our grand land. So it’s time to get TRIBAL!

What in the world do I mean, you may well ask. It’s my theory that our love of football and the strong emotions it brings to many of us, goes back to our primitive tribal days. No matter what our ethnicity or race, we all have histories of tribal periods, when our loyalty was first and foremost to our local village group.

We know of American Indian and African tribes and white Europeans lived in tribal modes in the years before Rome organized and conquered Europe. Even our Jewish friends have the twelve tribes of Israel.

I think this feeling is still within us and nothing illustrates this fact more than football. We can get very excited indeed about basketball and baseball (my personal favorite sport) but football, with its violence, approximates our tribal struggles of long ago.

We could even say that the scoring of a touchdown is the equivalent of capturing an enemy tribe’s village. Racking up six points means we have accomplished our goal, we have bested those other guys who were trying to stop us.

The players, obviously, represent the gallant young warriors of our tribe. For those of us not skilled enough or too old to play, we can bathe in their reflected glory or despair at their failures.

The tribal instinct is inculcated and reinforced in us no later than high school, when we have pep rallies and follow our junior warriors to the battlefield, or gridiron.
Then, even if we have never spent a day in a college classroom, many of us form a strong emotional attachment to university football teams. A win makes us happy all week and a loss ruins the whole week. When LSU or NSU wins, we can truly say “WE have won,” although we had nothing to do with the actual victory.

Of course, we have the pros of the NFL, whom I suppose you could call our mercenary soldiers, or soldiers of fortune. Lots of fans are just as excited, if not more so, about their favorite pro team as they are about a college team.

To me, there’s nothing like the emotions that ensue when LSU plays. I am glad when the New Orleans Saints win, but a loss (such a frequent occurrence too) does not really bother me.

I well realize that many of us, men and women, boys and girls, could care less about football or other sports. They will find some other outlet for their basic tribal feelings, though, I suspect.

So, in some respects, it seems us humans are very slow to change.
Hey, I heard that the village across the river is beating its drums and doing a war dance. Time to rouse our young warriors to teach them a lesson, right?