Super Bowl Sunday: Who’s Playing Who?

Super Bowl Sunday is a time 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. At work the game is even more exciting when we place bets with our coworkers. And nothing’s better than when we can cheer for our favorite team – even when they lose. The Super Bowl is practically a national holiday.

For the fourth straight year, the Super Bowl reached record levels of viewers, with over 110 million people tuned in. And in the fourth quarter over 50 percent of U.S. homes were tuned in. With millions watching, corporations pay big money for the chance to sell us more of their crap. This year 30-second spots cost on average $4 million each, the highest price ever. There were even ads coming out ahead of time to advertise for the commercials themselves. 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.

What happens during the Super Bowl is just business as usual for the rest of the season. From overpriced merchandise, tickets, parking, souvenirs, to the stadiums themselves – it’s all just another buck for the team owners, media, and corporate advertisers. The NFL is a multi-billion dollar industry. Their goal isn’t to bring us a national past time, but to take advantage of it.

It’s this same relentless push for profit that has the players themselves being treated no better than disposable equipment. The average NFL career lasts just under three years, and players die an average of twenty years sooner than their fans. The fact is that professional football has a 100 percent injury rate where players have to fight for years and sometimes even decades to get treatment. Meanwhile players suffer higher rates of memory loss, various forms of brain disease, and lack of impulse control, which often results in violence against loved ones.  Recently, Jovan Belcher died in a murder-suicide in December, killing his girlfriend before killing himself in front of the coach and general manager.

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 brain damage could be studied – 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.

These billionaire owners are constantly blackmailing bankrupt cities with leaving if enough public money isn’t handed over. The 49ers are in the middle of moving, the Warriors are on their way out, and the A’s are still talking about it. The owners of the 49ers want tax money for Santa Clara schools to build the new stadium. They even filed a restraining order to make sure the school district couldn’t spend the money on schools.

As teachers face lay-offs and classes are being cut, the profits of the already filthy rich team owners are calling the shots. 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.

Whether we’re diehard fans sporting body paint on the sidelines, or we only watch one game a year, just because we love the sport doesn’t mean we like the way it’s used for profit. We might be watching one game, but team owners are playing another – and we’re the ones getting played.