The Super Bowl – hmmmmm ….
I am more and more torn by American Football (and, along with that, Rugby, Hockey, Footie, MMA, or any sport contest where physical damage is done to another person by your hand). Yes, society embraces these things. Yes, hero narratives are constructed around the achievements attained on the pitch, the field, the ice, or the mat. Yes, it is entirely possible that the move from aggressive to overtly violent sports have become the 21st century equivalent of gladiatorial spectacle. And, yet, I tune in.
I am a Minnesota Vikings fan (first). If you know the franchise, then you know ours is one of close calls, missed field goals, being one game away, heartbreak, and losses … so many losses. We watch, we cheer, we cry, and then we do it all again the next season.
Being a fan means I am part of a fan base, a group of individuals and collectives that all speak a similar language – that of loss and pain and “well, I guess we’ll see what happens next year.” It becomes part of how I construct my identity, demonstrating aspects of myself to others without having to say a word … other than “Skol.” I am also a football fan (second). I enjoy the drama of the field. The conversations that are generated after “that play” or “that game” are social capital that I happily trade in. It is Sunday afternoons with the same tribe, watching the games … or not. Eating bar food. Enjoying a pint. It is tradition and ritual.
I also … and here is the interesting part … have not watched a complete Super Bowl since Green Bay played the 2011 game. The reason? My now-wife is a die-hard fan of the Pack. For me, the Super Bowl has nothing to do with the game at this point and all about the commercialism. Granted, the NFL has gone this way completely (do we actually need four days and nights a week of the NFL? Probably not. Is this bad for a host of reasons? Yes – I will not even get into the injuries that many players experience throughout their career. Art Herbig handles that expertly in his post), but the Super Bowl has taken it to a space that is just difficult to swallow sometimes. Given my profession and my own quirks, I am a big fan of the ads, but even those have become predictable and, well, lacking. I mean – you can only sell beer with a horse and a dog so many ways … right?
So, I enjoy watching football. I enjoy being a fan of the team from my homeland. I enjoy being entertained by it. I do not enjoy the commercialized reality of it, the exchange of players as commodities (see my working draft on an essay I am working on about playing Fantasy Football – coming soon to a server near you), or the devastating reality of the injuries that occur for the glory, for the fans, for the colors, and for the paycheck. It is a terrible thing to see someone sacrifice so much for the myth that is sold him.
Like I said before at the top – I am torn. So, will I watch SuperBowl LVII? Until the half, probably. Then, I am guessing we will settle into something on the streaming services, our devices, and getting updates as the game progresses.
Oh, and I am not even going to get started on how bitter I am about this game – being played in my homeland – on our home turf – and the Vikings being, yet again, one game away.