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I’m a longtime Ravens fan not because of the game’s violence, but its fellowship | READER COMMENTARY

Playing for the first time since suffering a torn knee ligament before last season, running back Gus Edwards celebrates with fans after scoring on a 7-yard touchdown carry late in the second quarter to give the Ravens a 13-10 lead over the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium on Oct. 23, 2022. The Ravens went on the win 23-20. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun).

A well-written recent commentary by Dartmouth Professor Randall Balmer suggests the emotional draw of football is somehow related to its level of violence or a game with an “affinity with militarism” (”Why are Americans drawn to the violence of football?” Jan. 9). While this may play a role, I feel other, often not stated, reasons play a larger role. At age 67 and a lifelong Baltimore football fan, I have watched a lot of Colts and Ravens games in my lifetime. The violence of the game has nothing to do with why I continue to watch. I suggest the games offer a coming together of a shared experience or a shared family endeavor.

My earliest memories date back to the mid ‘60s into the early ‘70s when I would walk half-a-mile away to my grandfather’s home to watch football with him on Sunday. Unlike our home in 1965, he had a color TV, and I could see those bright blue uniforms. Later in the mid ‘70s, the Bert Jones era, my mother, a splendid cook, would prepare Sunday dinner, which we then enjoyed on a card table set up in the living room to watch the Colts.

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In January of 2001, my wife and I drove to Baltimore from our home in New Hampshire to watch the Super Bowl in a local bar. When asked why I drove eight hours to watch a game I could see on my TV at home, I had an easy answer” Knowing that no one in the greater Boston area gave a hoot about the game I felt a need to be with “my people.” “My people” is made up of no one I had ever met but whom I knew shared the same lifetime experiences as me. “My people” are those who remember Green Bay winning a playoff game in 1965 against the Colts by a field goal that has yet to go through the uprights. And speaking of which, is there anyone out there as happy as I was when the Packers got bounced out of the playoffs last Sunday?

And now, some 50 years later, I am still watching with the same enthusiasm with one key difference. With my grandfather and mother having now passed, I watch the games with my 27-year-old son who, other than being a United States Marine Corps officer, is, like me, a passionate and cranky Ravens fan. I look forward to Sunday as I have for many years. This has been a difficult year to be a Baltimore Ravens football fan, but I am optimistic. Many do not give us much of a chance, but I agree with Mike Preston that “Cincinnati is beatable.” My son and I are hopeful like many others that Lamar Jackson plays and Baltimore prevails.

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Whatever happens, we will be watching not because of some appeal of violence, but of a shared event and the hope of winning. Sports is an emotional voyage none of which really matters and yet somehow it does. I was never happier in my life when the Ravens came all the way back to win the 2013 AFC Championship against the Patriots. This was not out of some militaristic need but because I looked forward to my team continuing on and knowing I had another week with friends and family to watch Baltimore play once more.

I hope this Sunday I have the opportunity to experience the same emotions I’ve had since 1965.

— E. Scott Williams, North Hampton, New Hampshire

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