Football: A Romance in Pictures

Black and white photograph of 2 football players shaking hands at the trophy stand.On Super Bowl Sunday, over 110-million Americans tune in to watch football’s grand championship game.  Fans cheer and grimace, drink and eat chili, spellbound by the contest for the sport’s supreme prize.

Black-and-white photograph of well-dressed men and women traipsing across an open field.
Enthusiasm envelops all of society, even presidents, plutocrats, and Paul McCartney.  Few can resist the drama of the grand finale.

Boys watching a football game hanging on a fence.
Only a fortunate few can afford to go to the game.

Ben Shahn, "Watching a football game, Star City, West Virginia" (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)
That doesn’t stop all America from watching.

Watching a football game, Star City, West Virginia (Courtesy Library of Congress).
Even a crack in the fence can seem pretty wide.

For few things are as thrilling as a really good game.

The agony of suspense
The agony of suspense is deeply satisfying . . .

Rapt crowds in stands
the rapt suspense that grips and unites a vast company.

Young woman watching football in the sun (Courtesy Library of Congress)
Why do we love football so, anyway?

Costello kicking (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)
Is it that football players channel our aspirations, reminding us of the days when we, too, played?

a young boy holds a football under his arm.

Two boys on the sidelines in football helmets (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Touch football (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)
Does it bring back the happiness of childhood games?

Lone football player (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)
Or remind us of our first date in some way?

Red Grange (holding the ball) and Jim Zeller of the Chicago Bears (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)
The acrobatics, the shenanigans, the mock-murderous conflicts:

Football game (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)
To society, they bring much-needed cartharsis.

Massillon Tigers, 1905 (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)
The players, the fans, they all have their reasons.

High-school football players slump in attitudes of introspection and gloom.
Maybe we’ll figure out what it all means next season.

All images courtesy of the Library of Congress.
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