Super Bowl Sunday is a day we get to spend with family and friends whether we like football or not. For some, the Super Bowl is the only football game they’ll watch all year. For others, it is the game they wait for all year. At work the game gets even more exciting if we bet with our coworkers. The Super Bowl is practically a national holiday.
For the past five years, the Super Bowl reached record levels of viewers, with over 110 million people watching. This year it’s expected to be another record, with as many as 50 percent of homes tuned in. With millions watching, corporations pay big money for the chance to sell us more of their crap. This year a 30-second spot costs $4.5 million each, the highest price ever, a twelve percent increase from last year. While normally commercials are a reason to change the channel, Super Bowl ads can sometimes get more attention than the game itself. For the corporations, the Super Bowl is nothing but a chance at more profits.
The Super Bowl is just business as usual for the rest of the season. From overpriced merchandise, expensive tickets, outrageous parking, and souvenirs, to the stadiums themselves – it’s all just another buck for the owners, media, and corporate advertisers. The NFL is a multi-billion dollar industry. Their goal isn’t to bring us a national past time – it’s to take advantage of it.
It’s this same relentless push for profit that has the players themselves being treated like disposable equipment. The average NFL career lasts just under three years, and players die an average of twenty years sooner than their fans. Professional football has a 100 percent injury rate, and players fight for years to get treatment. Players suffer higher rates of memory loss, various forms of brain damage, and lack of impulse control, which often result in violence against themselves and their loved ones.
These brain injuries have been so severe that some players (Dave Duerson and Junior Seau) have even committed suicide by shooting themselves in the chest so their brains could be studied. A study conducted last year found that out of 128 brains studied of deceased football players, over 80 percent suffered serious brain injuries. These injuries are not just from the heavy hits, but from the effects of everyday play. To the owners, these tragedies are just part of doing business.
Football is like any other business – the one’s who do the work are just used up and thrown away once they are no longer considered profitable. Sometimes it’s easy to just look at the salaries of the players, but the real money is being made by the owners, over half of whom are multi-billionaires.
Whether we’re diehard fans sporting body paint on the sidelines, or we only watch one game a year, just because we like to watch the sport doesn’t mean we like the way it’s used for profit. And even though our money is used to build the stadiums, the only way most of us can afford to go is if we’re the ones selling the hot dogs or pouring the beer.
On Sunday, we might be watching one game, but the team owners are playing another. Whichever team ends up with the highest score will get the trophy. But the real winners will be the owners. Their game is rigged – they’re the only ones who win every time.