What’s wrong with the Super Bowl?

Full disclosure: Tonight I’m writing my blog post from the Phoenix, AZ, International Airport. I’m writing here instead of in an airplane heading home because Super Bowl-induced air traffic caused some delays in my flight here, and I wound up missing the transfer to Indianapolis.

There was also rain involved, but mostly I blame the event, because I’m petty like that.

I make it no secret that I’ve got a chip on my shoulder about football in general, and the Super bowl in particular. It’s not the game in general I take issue with, but the amount of focus it gets in American minds, often at a significant human cost.

Misplaced priorities 

Don’t get me wrong– I fully support programs (including sports programs) in schools that help students build self-worth and develop themselves and their interests. However, in the USA, it’s not unusual for sports programs to get a generous budget while other programs (not only the arts, but things as basic as mathematics) wither and starve for want of funding.

The local impact

When the Super Bowl came to my home town a few years back, it brought some good things to Indy (though not money– in fact, Indy lost $1 million in revenue hosting the Super Bowl in 2012). But as while my husband and I were enjoying the newly renovated Georgia Street walkway, we ran into a homeless man who’d been forcibly evicted from the homeless camp at which he’d been living. Turns out the city’s efforts to “clean up” the city involved removing the local homeless population and putting them…

Actually, that part was never made clear. There wasn’t enough room in shelters to house the city’s homeless, and even if the Super Bowl Committee had planned to put each displaced person up in a motel room for the duration of the event, there weren’t any open rooms within an hour’s drive of the city. They were simply told to go somewhere else.

A history of violence

I can’t remember a time when professional athletes weren’t coming under fire for scandals. I’m not talking about relatively harmless offenses like cheating at the game, either– I’m talking about crimes like dog fighting, domestic assault, child abuse, and rape.

And worst of all, those who commit these crimes are often protected and defended in the name of their “promising careers”.

Is this really where you want to spend your money?

This year, a “cheap” ticket to attend the 2015 Phoenix, AZ, Super Bowl cost between $3,000 and $9,000, depending on when you bought your seat.

Let me point out that with the price of a single ticket (we’re going to be conservative here and go with the cheapest possible ticket), you could:

  • Pay for a semester’s tuition for one full-time student
  • Rent a one-bedroom apartment in Phoenix, AZ, for six months
  • Buy a $5 meal for 600 people (or, conversely, three square meals for one person for six months)
  • Pay for 300 visits to a low-cost Minute Clinic.

And those are the cheap seats.

What’s the point of all this?

I’m not saying you should stop enjoying football, the Super Bowl, or any sport that you enjoy. I don’t think you should be apologetic or ashamed. But I do implore you to think critically about the media that you are consuming (which you may already be doing, if you’ve gotten this far without closing the tab in an infuriated huff).

If a child you know is into sports, remind them of the importance of sportsmanship and integrity and respect, especially off the field. When an athlete is accused of criminal behavior, don’t downplay the suffering of the victim in the name of your team’s winning streak. When you consider splurging on expensive tickets, consider also donating resources to those in need.