Tom Brady won his seventh Super Bowl and consolidated his place among great American sports heroes, on a par with Jordan, Phelps and Babe Ruth, those who not only mark an era, but also define forever the history of their sport, and become part of popular culture as a reference beyond the mere realm of fans. Brady, whose victory in Super Bowl LV exemplifies 4 pillars of American greatness.
Sports reflect the soul of a society
The image of Tom Brady holding his daughter and celebrating with his family and teammates the historic championship is an extraordinary synthesis of that which makes the United States special; that vocation, that dream, that exceptionalism that makes America special among the nations of the Earth.
Certainly, in every country, there are sports competitions, great champions and warm celebrations like the one we saw on February 7th in Tampa. It is not that America has superhuman values; the difference is the intensity and strength with which values have been integrated into American society, which at its best gives us images like that of Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The four pillars of America, exemplified by Tom Brady
FIRST: Individual talent. Tom Brady is an outlier, an athlete of those that are seen perhaps every century, capable of competing with the best in the world and reaching the highest level within that elite group, even after the age of 40. Hundreds of players before Brady have devoted untold discipline and hard work to stay in the NFL past the age of 37 or 40, and have failed to do so. Clearly, Tom Brady is an outlier; he has natural talents beyond what is available to most people. So what difference does America make here?
In America, people with this kind of talent are given the opportunity and the drive to excel. That “individualistic” ingredient in the American culture allows the outliers to emerge and contribute much more easily than in those other countries where the collectivist vision pushes them to pretend to be mediocre, so that the group does not subject them to ignominy.
Why does America have so many top scientists, entrepreneurs and athletes? It is not a rational or genetic issue, but a cultural one. All countries have their stars, the difference is that many keep them covered up under cloaks of racism, influence, violence and corruption. If Steve Jobs, Henry Ford or Brady himself had been born in Latin America, they would have achieved at most a fraction of the success they developed in America.
SECOND: The importance of teamwork. Often America is presented to the world, out of ignorance or bad faith, as a hyper-individualistic and selfish country. However, the facts show us a very different scene than the prejudice; in America individual talent is appreciated and encouraged, but teamwork is also given enormous importance.
Tom Brady has won the Super Bowl 7 times not only because of his extraordinary talent, but also because he has had top-notch teams to accompany and complement him, first with the New England Patriots and now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In fact, Brady himself, after accepting the trade to Tampa, worked together with the institution to bring to the team a series of teammates, such as Rob Gronkowski and Leonard Fournette, whose work was indispensable throughout the intense season.
Teamwork based on individual responsibility and the contribution of each participant is basic to the American vocation. In the United States (as in any other part of the world) there is “influence peddling” but there is also a greater emphasis on the responsibility of each person within the team in which he or she participates and on the prioritization of talent over blood affiliation.
In America, being of “high birth” may give you an advantage at the beginning of your career, but only hard work will allow you to stay there. And that ability to work responsibly as a team has been fundamental to America’s growth, in sports, in business and even in war.
THIRD: A strong support structure. The Super Bowl is not only a sporting event, but a global demonstration of the logistical power of the United States.
In the case of American football, this structure includes the teams themselves (each NFL team has approximately 70 players and coaches, plus dozens of administrative and support personnel), in addition to thousands of companies, independent professionals and suppliers for the equipment, stadiums, the broadcasting of the games and the design of the shows. To put on a show like the NFL, it is not enough to have a lot of money; it requires an extraordinary capacity for organization and logistics, which is also reflected in other areas of everyday life in the United States.
Tom Brady would not have achieved what he has achieved without talented coaches’ support, backed up with world-class equipment, specialists and infrastructure. And this is a wonderful thing about America: it provides the cultural and social conditions necessary for the development of individual talent and couples them with the technical backing that makes it possible to get the most out of that talent.
FOURTH: The importance of family. We begin the article by talking about the wonderful image of Tom Brady embracing his daughter and celebrating with his family the extraordinary achievement of the seventh Super Bowl. Since pioneer times, throughout American history (and especially in times of greatest hardship) family and community have been indispensable bulwarks of America’s success.
This family and community role remains particularly clear in rural America, in those small towns where one finds a multitude of clubs, churches, associations and spaces for coexistence and the development of a conviviality that transcends mere geographic proximity. In contrast, especially in urban areas (and tragically increasingly in the rest of the country), families and communities’ disintegration has been reflected in higher levels of violence and despair.
With his victory, achieved through the sum total of talent and teamwork, backed by a solid infrastructure and his family’s support, Tom Brady exemplified in Super Bowl LV the pillars of the vocation that have made America exceptional in the world. Despite the turbulence and hopelessness of the current times, that strength remains alive in millions of Americans who, like Tom Brady, have the talent, the team, the infrastructure and the community to continue to amaze and transform the world, one victory at a time.