I admit it. I find the Super Bowl disturbing.
It’s a night when seemingly all of America drops everything, comes together, and focuses all of their attention on … football.
At a very basic level, I find the game itself disturbing. It is an undisguised metaphor for battle – for war. It’s an event where the participants suit up with helmets and pads in preparation for physical assaults – which often actually do result in injuries. All of the language of the sport is war jargon. The teams play offense and defense. The crowds participate in fight songs and chants.
Worse, into this war mentality, we interject nationalism and militarism. Football, the flag, and the anthem go hand in hand – by design. And, as we know, woe be to anyone who exercises their right to dissent or simply chooses not to participate in these rituals. The militaristic marching, the flyovers, the honoring of veterans – this is somehow football.
Inequality, too, is so integral to this whole Super Bowl tradition, we see right past it. The game puts a massive rubber stamp on class issues, demonstrated through a spectrum that ranges from inherent sexism and racism to sex trafficking and the fantastic disparities of wealth so blatantly on display.
And then, there’s the famous commercials. Now, the audience doesn’t just sit passively under the onslaught of advertising – they eagerly lap it up.
On the bright side, the Super Bowl is proof positive that United States citizens really can be motivated to act as one, throwing parties across the nation and watching television – everyone at exactly the same time.
Just imagine if we put that kind of synergy toward a truly worthy effort, like, say, peace and justice.
I get it that the Super Bowl is a distraction, that it’s a fun time-out for people, especially during these worrisome times. Sad to say, though, this distraction is an artifact of the bigger worrisome game – and I’m not talking about football.
Call me a party pooper, but, no, thank you, no Super Bowl for me.