Author’s Note: This post was originally written and posted in January 2014, right before Super Bowl 48 at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. I’ve decided to re-post it as an annual tradition before every Super Bowl Sunday here in the USA. Based on a conversation I had about the reasons people love both metal and football. Hope you enjoy! – HOM
As our media scrambles to figure out how to cram all the Super Bowl coverage it possibly can into two short weeks, I’m reminded of a discussion about metal and sports you won’t find on ESPN…
As a fellow headbanger and I philosophized over some fine ales one evening, my comrade became annoyed by my repeated references to the NFL game on TV behind her.
“I never liked football; just can’t get into it,” she let me know.
“You should,” I insisted. “It’s practically the same idea as metal.”
Her glare spoke eloquently enough the phrase I knew she had in her mind: “You’d better say something intelligent, starting now. Or else.”
Ahem. I recall saying something like the following….
Alright, so they aren’t exactly the same thing, but metal and football (all sports, really) share many similar tropes. They both have their traditions, their rituals, their heroes, their folklore, their moments of supreme glory, and of course, their uniforms. Is it really so outlandish that people can enjoy both…for very similar reasons?
At a metal show, the fans wearing the headlining band’s gear are like the hometown fans, wearing the home team’s jerseys on gameday.
The audience members wearing gear from other bands/supporting acts are like the visiting team’s fans.
The aging headbanger standing near the back of the theater away from the pit, drinking his beer and wearing his 20-year-old band shirt because this is his thirtieth time seeing this band? He’s like that guy in the stadium with the graying beard, wearing the retro jersey that he got after his first game, and has worn it to every game since.
The passionate fan who feels such a rush of pride every time he remembers where he was, down to his exact seat, when Player McAwesome made That Amazing Play That Won/Saved the Championship? (“I sat in section 331, row C, and when he made that play, I went to crazy I dumped my beer all over the guy sitting in front of me!”) He is the same as the metal fan who remembers exactly where they were when they first heard their favorite band (“It was blaring from someone’s car stereo in the parking lot…my friends kept walking on without me, because I was still standing there listening to it!”).
The legendary band who offers its support to the younger upstart band by giving them the opening slot on a tour can be compared to the retired, all-time record holder for a certain statistic calling up the guy who just broke it to say congratulations.
The fan who stands and applauds, wiping away a tear when their favorite player announces his retirement after a long and distinguished career, would identify with the metalhead who pours out his grief when he heard that his favorite band’s touring days are over. And they’re both just as excited and nervous when they announce plans to come out of retirement…
The two metalheads who pass each other on the street and notice that they’re each wearing a band shirt, and flash each other the devil horns in acknowledgement, is remarkably similar to the fan who sees someone wearing his team’s jersey and feels comfortable enough to ask, “Did we win today?”
The sense of appreciation when one remembers players gone past.
And that exhilaration, when you just lose it and start screaming and going nuts, proclaiming to the world how great it is to be a fan, well….that’s universal.
“I still don’t like football,” she said.
Whatever you’re watching on Super Bowl Sunday…enjoy the show.
Written by Matt P