January 31, 2011

Top Five Reasons I Won’t Be Watching the Super Bowl.

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Time when people gather around a large television and watch brawny men run back and forth across a field for 4 to 5 hours in an attempt to cheer on the team that makes it over the final white line the most.

I am aware that most people really enjoy this and many people will probably argue with me on why I am wrong, and how sports create team spirit, team building, unity, excitement, conversation, and how it’s a national pastime (which is certainly where I’d rather it be, in the past).

It’s fine with me if other people want to waste this Sunday watching the “big game,” it’s a personal decision, but here are some reasons why I’m not going to and maybe this year, you’ll change your mind too.

1) Football is Simulated War

And the Super Bowl is the pinnacle, the last battle for all the glory, wealth and pride. It’s a form of ritual violence. Football is strategic in the same manner that a battlefield is.  And it’s perpetuated over and over again, season after season. It’s not a substitute for war; it makes us tolerate war a bit more because we grow to understand the ideas of hierarchies, teams, allegiances; we tolerate and often enjoy the underlying violence, the will to win under any circumstance, the hyper aggression. In my mind it’s all a direct correlation to accepting the wars off the field and I don’t support it.

2) Rapists, Dog Killers and A**holes, Oh My!

The NFL doesn’t seem to care what their players do or what happens to them when they’re done (hmm sounds very militaristic to me) as long as they make them plenty of money while they are there (and of course, win win win at whatever cost).

In a recent article on Jezebel, “Sexual Assault and the Super Bowl”, the author discusses the rape charges and sexual assault charges on plenty of NFL players as well as NFL players general misconduct.

The Super Bowl isn’t the only place to find player misconduct, though. According to a 1998 study entitled Pros And Cons: The Criminals Who Play In The NFL, more than one in five NFL players has been accused of at least one serious crime. The study’s more than twelve years old at this point, but has anything in the culture surrounding football shifted enough to change the epidemic it exposes? It shouldn’t come as a shock that a sport that gathers exceptionally large men together and encourages them to be aggressive has a complexion dotted with horrifying blemishes.

And what about Michael Vick, he can go to jail for 19 months because of a dog fighting scandal and then we can all just forgive, forget and give him endorsement deals?

These types of behaviors, rape, sexual misconduct, animal abuse, etc. should not be tolerated or shrugged away. It reinstates the whole, “boys will be boys” notion—the phrase of which doesn’t even make sense—boys will be however we expect them to be and we can’t accept or support people who purposely harm other life for their own personal gain.

3) The Super Bowl reinforces Hegemonic Masculinity

Football players show men how to be “real men.” William Harryman talks about this in his article “In Defense of Jay Cutler: Rejecting the Bogus Man Code.” Men have to be so totally opposite of women so as to not come off being seen feminine in any way as that would be the death of their masculinity. And the death of them. Manly men couldn’t go on living in a world that didn’t respect them, that thought them weak, and oh my, emotional.

The dominant masculinity of our time is disgusting. Men and women both deserve the opportunity to explore all sides of themselves—the strong side, the emotional side, no one should be boxed in to behave a particular way, especially when “the way” is so limiting and so destructive.

Football teaches men that aggression, anger, and violence is what it takes to be successful. If one goes outside of those boundaries they are no longer manly, they are no longer masculine, they are no longer accepted. I cannot tolerate this type of shaming, guilt inducing, categorizing of people.

4) It’s the (Second Most) Ultimate Capitalist Holiday

The people who don’t really care about the game, care about the commercials. Really? Commercials? The parts of television we all try to avoid by getting tivo or Netflix? On the day of the big game we also celebrate advertising at it’s finest. If one wants to believe that advertising is fine. And I don’t.

I don’t want to buy a new car, Xtra Cheesy Doritos, Budweiser or whatever else companies are wasting millions of dollars trying to sell me. I wouldn’t mind if those companies would use their billions of dollars to actually do something good instead of wasting it on a 30 second commercial that they’ll only probably air one time.

Viewers of the Super Bowl expect commercials now as a form of comedy entertainment between acts of violence. The commercials break up the seriousness of the simulated war and they make viewers feel better by knowing that when it’s all over they can still go out and buy things. The commercial entertainment unites citizens no matter if their team wins or not.  They can all laugh over that one great ad on Monday. Now that’s something we can all cheer about.

5) And it Glorifies Over-consumption

Isn’t it quite contradictory how on New Years day many people make resolutions to eat better, exercise more, become better people, and by the time the Super Bowl comes around many if not most of these people are scarfing down nachos and guzzling cheap beer?

It’s okay to over indulge on the Super Bowl—it’s a holiday for goodness sake.

A holiday of being lazy, fat, and gross. The American Dream. Watching other people workout on a field while eating large amounts of food. Go ahead, have your 87 different types of processed cheese nachos, smothered in lard-based chili and walloped with sour cream; go ahead take a drink of beer every time they say “yard-line,” but don’t forget to follow it by shoving down all of the different fried concoctions available, fried potatoes, fried okra, fried bacon, fried snickers, fried butter. Fried food is not just for the county fair anymore.

No thanks, I’d rather read a book, listen to good music, or go for a walk. Which is what I’ll probably be doing next Sunday, while the rest of America works on its collective heart attack and its love for perpetual violence.

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