Every year the Super Bowl fights to maintain its position as the most watched television event. The NFL employs thousands of PR experts and incentivizes producers to come up with pre-game activities, media content and celebrity endorsements to build anticipation and expectations. It is the culmination of a brutal 16 week schedule of fierce internecine combat, and on the heels of the exhausting Christmas and New Year Holidays. For a large part of the country, Winter has folks locked down and Spring is still a few difficult weeks away.
The Super Bowl comes around at the perfect time to serve as the Ultimate Diversion. It has the appearance of something extraordinarily meaningful, when in fact it has absolutely no redeeming meaning at all.
The Super Bowl Halftime Show, which has to be epic just to exist alongside the Biggest Show On Earth, continues to be extremely controversial. The NFL is shameless in it's hypocrisy, constantly promoting "End Racism" and "Women Power" rhetoric, while simultaneously hiring urban rappers who sell millions of recordings of blatantly racist and hate-filled diatribes about killing cops and celebrating extreme misogyny.
I avoid watching halftime shows, and lament the obvious politicalization of Professional Football. But when the game ends, I am always encouraged. Why? Because the players who get the opportunity to publicly express their "feelings" about the game and the work it takes to win a World Championship, do a phenomenal job of promoting the best aspects of their profession. With few exceptions, when confronted by the sideline reporters asking "How does it feel to win the Big Game?" most players openly weep, explaining that they are so happy and proud that they are speechless. They go on to give their Lord And Savior acknowledgement for his blessings. Then they proudly pronounce that it takes a "Team Effort", that the team is made up of "Special People" who care about each other, support each other, and who "never give up".
They look up and give the fans affirmation, noting how much their support inspires the players to "come to work every day, to work long hours at making ourselves the best we can be!"
And then, the most exceptional part, is when they look over their shoulder and say "Of course, I want to thank my wife, my kids and my whole family, because without their love and constant support, I would not be here today!"
Granted, the 4 hour event spends most of its advertising time espousing dark and narcissistic themes, but in the few minutes that is devoted to interviewing the MVP, the Winning Head Coach and even the Team Owner, America gets some very intense sermons about what it takes to be successful, to achieve goals, to create a unified "Team Effort" to overcome obstacles and fear, and to then share that wonderful sense of accomplishment, not just among themselves but with the community and the entire country.
We get reminded that we Americans are all part of a family. We all have a common love for making our lives as good as they can be. We honor and respect sacrifice and determination, and recognize the character it reveals when we accomplish great things together.
It may seem cliche, but it proves that the fundamental reasons we all love the game of football (or baseball, or any sporting event) is because it unites us! The underlying motivation to be involved in competition, to build something bigger than ourselves, is to inspire ourselves. To move us to set the bar high, to achieve and to use synergism to "touch the sky" as Jimi Hendrix would say.
I can only hope viewers stick around after the game ends just long enough to be reminded why we watch in the first place.