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Why cheer on Super Bowl Sunday?

Jan 29, 2014 - By Chris Peck

Because it's good for you, that's why.

Very likely Peyton Manning couldn't find Riverton or Lander on a map.

No matter on Super Bowl Sunday.

My guesstimate is that most of Fremont County will be rooting for Manning and the Broncos this Sunday.

Geography breeds familiarity, and Fremont County circles in Denver's orbit.

It's where the one airline in the county flies.

It's the place you go if you want the big city and Salt Lake isn't your cup of tea.

Denver you can drive in a day. Its 400 miles.

Seattle? It takes a weekend or a 1,000-mile, three-mountain-pass all-nighter.

All of that helps cement the Broncos the Super Bowl team of choice for many locally.

Buy why?

Why care?

At one level, it's just a football game. Big men crash into one another.

And not for very long.

A Wall Street Journal study earlier this football season found that an average NFL game features only 11 minutes of real football action. The rest of the time is filled up by replays, shots of the huddle, or images of players/cheerleaders milling about.

Only about 120 snaps of the ball in three hours of the game. Or four hours for the Super Bowl.

The ratio of downtime/commercials to actual football plays: 10 to 1.

Yet for most people watching the game this Sunday, all of that won't make one fig of difference.

It's the frigging Super Bowl!

Even if you don't follow football, you know about the Super Bowl.

You made some dip for somebody.

You plan to go to a party -- even if you don't watch the game.

And here's why.

We're all looking for something to connect us.

In America, a big, diverse, sprawling continent, you don't always know the people who live 30 miles away -- much less 300 miles distant.

We've got different religions, different politics, different takes on how to raise our kids and pets. We're cat people and dog people, and don't always want to cross over to the other side.

But the Super Bowl? It's one of the few things, besides complaining about the weather, that binds us together.

More than that, we're wired to be fans.

We want to root for somebody. We can't help but connect all kinds of personal love, hate, dreams and disasters, to a team. It's the secret at the heart of sports. And it goes back thousands of years.

"There is no doubt that a lot of sports fans are so involved that the team's performance literally becomes their own,'' writes Daniel Wann, author of Sports Fans: The Psychology and Social Impact of Spectators.''

You know the feeling. Your team wins, it puts a spring in your step. The world is right for a moment.

Your team loses, and the day seems grayer. And don't even think about having a conversation with your wife or girlfriend until the sting wears off.

But it turns out this isn't a bad thing.

You aren't as weird as that guy in the beer commercial who wriggles around in front of the TV and then throws the bowl of Cheetos.

No, studies show that ardent sports fans have lower rates of depression and higher self esteem than those who don't follow sports.

Because you feel part of something. Your team. Your tribe of fans.

You can talk to your kids about the Broncos. And your grandparents.

No, you don't necessarily need to buy an orange jersey and wear it to work on Friday.

But come Sunday you can, and should, cheer for the Denver Broncos.

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