Football is a valued American sport and the Super Bowl claims more television viewers than any other program during the year. We call it a test of skill and gaming prowess. There are super Bowl parties among friends and the tickets are given as radio show prizes or even as gifts from the Make a Wish Foundation. Today, Monday February 4th, the Super bowl is a memory, although still the talk at the water cooler. There are winners and losers and debates of fairness or appreciation depending on team loyalty. But the cheering has ended.
Perhaps in this time of pause, we can evaluate the Super Bowl beyond what is seen on the field. There is an underbelly to this event that cannot be ignored and we must ask ourselves if it expresses our values.
The Super Bowl is a financial windfall. The winning team members pocket $118,000+ and the losing members receive $59,000+. And there are cars, etc. awarded as prizes and other extras. The cost of the tickets to the game averages in the thousands. And the football pools and wagers are not easily estimated. But it is not unreasonable to estimate that something in the range of $5 Billion was at play. All of this money is focused on one game in spite of obvious national concerns about universal health care, government spending, restrictions on food stamps and Medicaid eligibility. How can we as people with values respond?
The Super Bowl is a time when human trafficking occurs and due to the large crowds may increase. Not everyone believes it is increased, but surely it is a good time to raise awareness of human trafficking, particularly in Atlanta where the city’s mayor reports that they rank third in the country for reports of trafficking. The devaluing of human life is never a good. And often, we ignore the pain of the marginalized – those on the edges of society – and our focus is only on the injuries of the players. While it is sadly true that those injuries are often serious and debilitating and raise questions about the future of football, surely attending to both is necessary.
Now that the parties and cheering are over, let us spend time studying what is really important and what needs to happen. As citizens of this country, let us demand that our values are evident in all our policies, our priorities, and our games. We are not the people who desire “bread and circuses” rather we are the people who embody God’s reign.
Karen Rossman, OP