We were driving home from our niece’s baptism Sunday, talking about how the Super Bowl has taken over as the primary American religious celebration. It’s a day when so many idols of the nation converge in a celebration akin to pagan feast days of yore. Here are some of the things we thought of that are worshiped so heavily in America that find their climax with the Super Bowl. Reflecting on things like this is an interesting cultural exercise.
-Football: definitely one of the biggest idols of American culture (finger is pointed at me, especially), and Super Bowl Sunday looms even larger when one’s team is involved. I wonder how the homeless in each respective city feel toward football each year when they are hidden or shuttled away so that the city can look perfect for the television cameras.
-Entertainment: The Super Bowl is as much about the entertainment as it is about the game. Starting with the two weeks of pre-game hype to the excess pageantry of the game, it’s the pinnacle of entertainment. The fact that Dallas’ new stadium boasts two 60-yard high definition screens is just one testament to this. It’s also ironic that the Black Eyed Peas didn’t help the entertainment factor this year.
-Consumerism: This one is too easy. $3 million for thirty seconds of air time? Corporations aren’t paying that money to entertain, they’re paying that because they know it’s effective. Players changing into tacky championship garb before the clock runs out? Sales gimmick. Think the Super Bowl MVP really needs a new car? Just another marketing tactic.
-The Individual: Regular season games are bad enough, but in the Super Bowl this is taken to sickening heights. Every first down, every sack, every yard, and every tackle garners another “I am the center of the universe” celebration. Also, quarterbacks especially are elevated to god-like status by fans and the media, especially when they win.
-Gluttony: Super Bowl Sunday is second only to Thanksgiving for food consumption. Antacid sales shoot up 20 percent the day after the Super Bowl. Bad beer and junk food commercials are the norm.
-Sex: From godaddy.com to who knows what else, sex sells year after year. I didn’t see any ads this year, so I have no idea how they scored on the skin meter. But at least neither of the teams had cheerleaders, right?
-Winning: Is winning the Super Bowl really the ultimate prize for players and coaches and fans? Do they legitimately feel more fulfilled in the days, weeks, months afterward? What does it profit the Super Bowl winners if they gain the whole world, but lose their own soul?
-Celebrity: Even the cult of personality is on display at the Super Bowl. From Fergie’s awkward duet with an elderly Slash to the even more awkward A-rod feeding, celebrity gossip fodder was in abundance, and Americans eat it up.
-Finally, each year the Super Bowl (and every other more minor “feast” of regular season games) falls on the Christian’s feast day: The Lord’s Day.
I don’t intentionally mean to ignore the possible positives that might be involved, like competition, opportunities for fellowship, etc. We were, after all, graciously hosted for the game this year (thanks, Kayes!), and had nutritious, delicious, and non gluttonous food.