I’m 30 years old. I’m a Miami sports fan. Among the many things I’ve been able to experience in my sports-viewing life are: a college football national championship (1991), attending a World Series game (1997), a World Series championship (1997), a dominant University of Miami football team and another college football National Championship (2001), a second World Series championship (2003), and a NBA championship (2006). Sports fans around the nation might say that as a Miami sports fan, I am spoiled. Even if you look at the current landscape of Miami sports, more NBA championships have been promised.
What you didn’t see on my list is a Super Bowl championship. And that, dear readers, has always been my number 1 sports wish.
It’s true that in my lifetime, the Miami Dolphins (the flagship sports franchise of the city), employed arguably the greatest passer in NFL history. It’s true that in my lifetime, Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins made it to a Super Bowl. Being 30 years old though, when that Super Bowl (Super Bowl XIX) was played, I was four years old. I have no memory of that game other than the highlights I’ve seen. I have no memory of Marino’s greatest seasons (’84, ’85, and ’86). I even have no memory of the epic Monday Night Football showdown against the then undefeated Chicago Bears. I didn’t really start watching, understanding, and enjoying football until the early 90s.
For me, the Dolphins were always good-not-great. Now they aren’t even that. The last several season have the team mired in mediocrity, and the present leadership group inspires a less than hopeful future.
Football is this country’s most visceral of sports. While basketball is an urban game of athletic finesse, and baseball is an individual sport of practiced skill, football approaches closer to Ancient Roman gladitorial combat than any of the mainstream sports. To win the Super Bowl is to be crowned the “primus palus“, or champion of champions. And that’s the viewing experience I am missing from my sports life.
As you look at football, you see the connections to the gladiators of Ancient Roman; the arenas, the crowds, the inspriation of the people to bloodlust. (One of my aunts notably yells: “Kill ’em” while watching the Dolphin defense approach an opposing ball-carrier.) It’s probably no coincidence that one of the most popular shows on TV these days, Spartacus, is all about gladiators.
For me, this passion for the Dolphins pushed me toward hated of the Jets, Patriots, and Bills. And it was in the 90s, when the Dolphins were masquerading as championship-contenders, that the Bills sat atop AFC. I hated their blue and red. Andre Reed, Bruce Smith, and Thurman Thomas were all players I could not help but dispise. Not even Jim Kelly escaped my loathing, because his time at the helm of the UM football team was before my time. It was only years later, while volunteering at Jim Kelly’s charity auction and golf tournamnet, that I connected with a few of these men on a personal level. My experience with Thurman Thomas being particulary delightful. (I promise to tell that story soon.)
So as I take to the couch later this afternoon, like the millions of other spectators, I can’t help but one day wish to watch my own team playing for the pinnacle of professional football. This is my Dolphins Super Bowl Wish. It’s so much a part of my sports-life that as a Creative Writing teacher, I include this desire in a formula poem I assign my students called the Biopoem. One of the final lines of the Biopoem formula is to write three things you hope to see, and one of my hopes is to see the Dolphins win a Super Bowl. (I’ll post my Biopoem for anyone to read and the formula for anyone to try.)
As they are currently constructed, the Miami Dolphins are a ways away from fulfilling my wish. Hopefully, the franchise’s front office can figure it out soon, but until then, there are plenty of Super Bowl commercials to enjoy.
And there’s always the Miami Heat.