Superb Owl — The Secret American History ESPN Doesn’t Want You To Know

Alex Maki-Jokela
4 min readFeb 12, 2023

America has always been a land of paradox — and the history surrounding our yearly Superb Owl competition is no exception.

One cold winter day in 1967, our nation found itself irreconcilably divided. Many factions representing different regions of the country, driven by ancestral animal spirits, were warring for supremacy. None could decide who would hold the crown of the strongest — and so they sought the council of the wisest of all creatures — the owl.

Out of respect for the deep wisdom of this majestic bird, they sought the wisest, eldest owl, and decided that they would grant it the title of “Superb Owl” (flattery goes far with birds), and humbly requested that it mediate their disagreements.

The first few attempts were met with failure — owls are capricious beings, and even the wise Superb Owl had a habit of involuntarily preying on smaller animal spirits who sought its’ counsel. Owls are also quite lustful birds, and the Superb Owl demanded a torrential stream of elaborate mating dances and other entertainment interspersed with the conversation to accommodate its’ short attention span.

But — the nation’s faith was not misplaced. After many misfires and some bloody incidents of accidental predation (of which most records have gone missing), the Superb Owl spoke.

“Okay, here’s the deal: Y’all gotta FUCK each other UP and it’s gotta be ENTERTAINING. Details have been sent via carrier pigeon, but I ate the carrier pigeon. So, look for them on the ground. Or just make some shit up. I don’t care. Either way, I demand spectacle! Hoo!”

The owl had spoken.

And so an organization was born — the Nocturnal Flappin’ Love society — commonly referred to today as the NFL. This organization would mediate the contests that had ravaged the nation, shaping them in preparation for the Owl’s judgement. It would culminate a tournament of violence, centered around a reverse “capture the flag” contest, in which one group would try to place a live pig into a reverently decorated rectangle deep in the territory of their opponent. The original games were held outdoors in the wilderness, across territory spanning many miles.

Many of the original contestants sustained severe injuries — and very often the pig (who, needless to say, disliked the game) would escape from the grasp of its’ captors and run squealing out of the boundaries of the contest — spawning a system of elaborate rules governing its’ capture, transport, and reentry.

Many years later, this tradition remains alive, although it has evolved to something much more regulated. A ball (called the “pigskin” as a reference to its’ origins — a decidedly more agreeable albeit verbally macabre arrangement for the pig) is forcefully traded between the two competing teams as they attempt to place it in each others’ colorful rectangular sanctums.

When only two teams remain, the audience of the Superb Owl is summoned to oversee the final competition. The same rules apply, but the scale is larger. The Owl takes over an enormous nest-like structure built at great expense in its’ honor — known as a Stadium — from one of its’ contestants— and the contest takes place in the center of that nest. The event is viewed by hundreds of millions of spectators nationwide, who worship the Owl, study its’ ways, and speak of its’ judgment in reverent, mystical terms.

Approximately halfway through the contest, an elaborate societal mating dance is performed to satisfy the owl’s ravenous lust and to keep it interested (remember — birds have short attention spans). This is generally performed by the nation’s most respected singers and musical artists, with many commercial enterprises also vying to amuse and tittilate the owl through smaller morsels of entertainment sporadically displayed throughout the affair.

Upon completion of the contest, the Superb Owl bestows a large shiny rock (a treasure amongst birds) to the victor, who may by consensus reign supreme for a period of one year. All of the teams then return to their homes, and begin to plot their courtship of the Owl’s favor in coming years.

I’ve seen versions of this history posted before, but they all seem to have details missing or are riddled with factually incorrect information— so I thought I’d post something a little more in depth and set the story straight.

I wish a prosperous Superb Owl day to all of those who practice and spectate upon this tradition, and I applaud you for sharing your deep and naturalistic contest with the masses of our fledgling nation. May the Owl’s favor be bestowed upon your champion!

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