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FEBRUARY 01, 2017

In the past six months I have lived in three different places all around the country. While nothing permanent is ever put up, I always reserve one spot on the wall. Not for pictures, although they go up too. But the biggest spot goes to the collection of quotes I have gathered over the years.

I love the way that they can perfectly encapsulate a feeling or a moment with just the right words. They give me a boost of confidence in the times that I need it most, no matter where I am.

My connection to sports has grown the most during times of change in my life. The feeling of joy that fills me from seeing a football being kicked in the air signals a solid 60 “football” minutes with just me and my favorite sport.

Often I remind myself of this when I am struggling to remember why I want to be a sports journalist or when athletes or sports teams disappoint me. For those moments, I look to the most perfect quote.

“I always turn to the sports pages first, which records people’s accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man’s failures,” said Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren.

Right now there is a lot of failure on the front pages of our newspapers. There are a lot of disagreements and suffering being splashed on social media sites and protested all over the country. For many, there is a lot of disappointment over what is happening and fear for what is to come.

Amid all of this, we are preparing for one of the best days of the year. A day on which we will collectively consume about 1.33 billion chicken wings and 12.5 million pizzas. Millions of people around the world will have their eyes glued to a TV screen, whether for the action on the field or the advertisements or just to see what outrageous spectacle of a performance Lady Gaga will put on.

People who haven’t watched football games all year will tune in and learn that the Atlanta Falcons are indeed a football team, a very good one in fact. And we can only hope that Tom Brady will end the day with a very, very sad look on his face and take a passive aggressive pout into the locker room (okay fine, that one is just for me).

The Super Bowl is always a spectacle. The game’s 51st incarnation is coming during an incredibly turbulent time in the United States, when it seems almost wrong to worry about the final score of a game or to discuss which team to bet on holding the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the night.

It’s evolved into much more than a battle between the two best football teams. And from this elaborate event, we will surely be seeing plenty of sports pages celebrating the champion’s accomplishments on the field.

For one day, people will be united in ways that can’t be accomplished outside of the arena. Because for one day, we will all have one conversation. Sports can spark celebrations within cities or countries and join people together in their agony.

The issues this country is facing are far beyond what a game could fix or anything that could be saved by everyone eating a bunch of fried foods for hours. The Super Bowl is not the biggest event in the news this week because there are things going on with much wider implications. Things that are frightening to many, but are necessary changes to others. We are a divided country. In Berkeley, we are surrounded by people that feel disgusted by the actions that have occurred in the past week or so. That are passionate enough to protest. That’s not something that is common in all areas of the country at all.

The first Sunday in February has become a national holiday of sorts. A day when we can all agree on something, which will be a nice break from what these past two weeks have provided us and from what the coming months no doubt promise to bring. A day we will either finish by discussing Brady’s fifth Super Bowl ring (gross) or how Matt Ryan is finally realizing his full potential.

I am someone who believes in the power of sports. I believe that sports can bring a city together, I believe that it can break social barriers, and I believe that it can be a ray of sunshine amid the clouds. I wish I could say I am naive enough to believe that an incredible game Sunday will heal and solve some of the problems in this country, but I know that’s not the case.

On Monday morning, there will be plenty of stories on protests and legislation. And we need to read those. But even with all that is going on, we still need that back page. A place where we can just celebrate some of the best athletic moments. Who knows, maybe we’ll even get a new quote to hang on our walls.

Contact Alaina Getzenberg at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @agetzenberg.

FEBRUARY 01, 2017