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What is it about the return of a sport that affects the human psyche?

Sports are a microcosm of life. Triumph, agony, relief, joy — these are just a few of the things you feel on the emotional roller coaster that is a game or season.

People love the smell of the fresh cut grass and have long tried to make the Opening Day of the Major League Baseball season a national holiday.

For others, it is the sound of sneakers squeaking on the hardwood floors and the “swish” sound that ring through gymnasiums and parks throughout the country. Chain-link nets make the best “swish” for what it’s worth.

Yet, no sport really takes this country by storm quite like football — high school, college and the pros. No matter where you go, from Arizona to Maine and Washington state to Florida, people live for their Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays jam-packed with football.

And I would be remiss not to mention the Thursday and Monday night games that start and end the gridiron buffet.

Football has the power to make you become best friends, albeit even if it’s just for a couple hours on a Sunday with a complete stranger simply because you sat down next to them wearing the same colors. It can also do the opposite if you are in enemy territory.

Speaking of fans, what an interesting group of people. On any given gameday, you’ll see your most reserved friend wearing their emotions on their sleeves and the most even-keeled person come undone by a bad call.

Football has engulfed this nation so much, Alabama and Clemson have a shot at playing for the College Football National Championship for the fifth straight year and people will still tune in.

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The National Football League has been rocked by multiple scandals over the years, from the league’s handling of domestic violence issues to head injuries to National Anthem protests, yet television ratings continue to rise.

In the United States, football is king.

Nearly 40 million Americans are planning to bet on an NFL game this year, according to a newly released survey by the American Gaming Association (lay the points and take the L.A. Rams -2.5 at Carolina Panthers in week one). Although that number is probably much higher when you take into consideration the number of people who play fantasy football.

This year marks the 10th anniversary for a league I am in with a group of friends from high school. There is nothing quite like the trash talk that flies when a group of 12 good friends get together for a fantasy draft.

Though we may fall out of touch during the offseason and have sprawled throughout the country since college and for work, it keeps us close and I don’t see it ending any time soon.

If you’ve never played, give it a try this year. There’s still time to get in the action before the Bears and Packers play Thursday night, the first game of the season. You never know, perhaps in 10 years you’ll have a new Labor Day tradition of your own.

Of course there are rivalries and teams we despise (*cough* Patriots *cough*) but maybe that’s what sports does for us. In a world that can be so divisive, sports bring us together like few things can.

Now that football is back, we’ve made it through the dog days of summer and baseball is no longer the only show in town. So throw on your team colors and go make some new friends over these fall weekends, even if it’s just for a few hours.

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Kolby KickingWoman is a reporter/producer for Indian Country Today. He is Blackfeet/Gros Ventre from the great state of Montana and currently reports and lives in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter - @KDKW_406. Email -