Mitchell Nathanson is a professor of legal writing at the Villanova University School of Law whose scholarship focuses on the intersection of sports, law and society. His A People's History of Baseball can be ordered here. His other books include The Fall of the 1977 Phillies: How a Baseball Team’s Collapse Sank a City’s Spirit.
Sabol, the late head of NFL Films, was a genius — he, and his father Ed, had the ability to reach us in places we didn’t know we had; the ability to make us feel rather than think; the ability to, in a game replete with punishing and concussing hits, touch us ever so lightly but oh so deeply. But given that he defined the way we appreciate football, how will we watch the games without him?
Sports, particularly baseball, have helped to grease the wheels of the status quo through tales of triumphant underdogs to the point where a seventy-five-year old Cubs fan could believe from the stands at Wrigley that this, irrespective of the last hundred, was the year his Cubbies were finally going to put it all together. This mindset, “quasi-pathological” at a minimum, is quintessentially American.