Tom McNeal nails the feeling of football fandom (sports in general, maybe): it matters

Especially if you’re in a small town that already has an inferiority complex:

Along the fence line, near the pep club concession stand, the men from Goodnight had been mesmerized by Tausen’s pass. They knew what it meant. They could already sense the unfair diminishment in self-respect that was on its way. In their farmers’ bones, in their shopkeeper’s bones, they had expected it. It was what living on small farms and in a small town taught them to expect. They would lose. They would walk away, muttering or maybe working up a joke, beginning to pretend it didn’t matter. But it did. Not in any way they could adequately define or defend, but still, it did. It mattered.

– Tom McNeal (Goodnight, Nebraska)