When I think about the NFL, or football in general, my mind immediately goes to large men with helmets running into each other; granted, I am not a big sports fan. Most people’s minds wouldn’t imagine a little girl as the face of a major NFL ad campaign. However, tiny Samantha Gordon, a ten-year-old pee-wee football player from Utah, is featured on the first commercial of the NFL’s “Together We Make Football” campaign.
“Together We Make Football” is a contest where football fans of all ages, shapes and sizes are encouraged to share their stories of how football impacts their lives and what it means to them. The contest narrows down to ten finalists, with five invited to take part in Super Bowl XLVIII festivities. These stories can be in video, picture or story form and are posted to the “Together We Make Football” website. The winners are chosen by a panel of judges, and the site’s visitors are invited to “like” the different posts; although these likes don’t have any affect on the contest winners.
So how can I, someone so inexperienced in all things NFL, take an interest in “Together We Make Football?” By applying it to what I know. This campaign is a perfect example of how subcultures form and become such tight-knit communities. The Social Identity Theory of communication states that people have many different versions of themselves depending on the groups, or subcultures, they belong to. Different social situations are what drive these separate “selves” to behave in certain ways. The title alone explains why “Together We Make Football” exemplifies this theory. Defining fans of football as a “we” takes thousands of people and brings them together into a single unit.
Social Identity Theory goes further, saying that people belonging to one group tend to favor others within the group at the expense of others on the outside. This holds true in the NFL regarding team rivalries in which fans become passionately involved. Rivalries are like a double-edged sword, bringing together fans of the same team while creating tension with the fans of the opposing team.
“Together We Make Football” reminds us that all fans are the same. Ultimately, the goal is for their favorite team to win. The campaign reminds us that all fans have the same goal, though it might be for different teams. It allows people to share why they love the game so much, which can bridge the gap between rivals. The different fan groups can become a single football-loving “we” because of the “Together We Make Football” campaign.
– Maggie Dowicyan