Super Bowl – Super Rare Opportunities

The Super Bowl has come and gone. The New Orleans Saints defeated the Indianapolis Colts, winning their first Super Bowl ever. Over one hundred million people sat down to watch the game, spending the day relaxing with friends and family.

The Super Bowl has become a massive sporting event, generating hundreds of millions of dollars for TV stations and beer and snack companies. The television network, CBS, charged as much as $100,000 per second to air commercials during the game, and is expected to bring in over $200 million in advertisement revenue alone.

The Super Bowl, like all professional sports, is just another big business to make money. What makes headlines are the multi-million dollar contracts of the players. But the real money makers are the owners of the teams and the clothing and sports companies using these players to rake in hundreds of millions every year.

Like all big businesses, the workers are just used up until they are no longer useful for making money. It’s the same in football. Football players are lucky if they can last more than ten years in the pros, and many end badly crippled – especially the huge linemen. Without a regular program of intense exercise, all of that mass of muscle just deteriorates. The constant physical blows throughout a career wear away players’ bodies. Many professional football players end their careers suffering from permanent injuries and major brain damage, experiencing about 100-200 concussions during their careers. And the damage from all these injuries only continues and gets worse with age.

Despite this lesser known reality of football, many young people still look up to professional athletes like they are heroes. Many people grow up hoping that someday they will be able to play in the pros. Sports become the dream for a way out of the dead-end life they see around them.

And why shouldn’t sports take on this mythic role in the eyes of young people? For most young people, especially those from poor or working class families, there are few avenues to live better off than their parents. About 28 percent of young people between 20 and 24 are unemployed and not in school. Unemployment for teenagers between 16 and 19 is around 74 percent. Over 37 million Americans depend on food assistance, over twelve million of whom are children. And with constant state budget cuts and endless fee increases, an education beyond high school is becoming further out of reach.

In contrast, sports can provide a path for young people to focus on, and get real satisfaction from. Constant practice, honing one’s skills, fully developing oneself, pushing oneself to the limit – these are all satisfying experiences. So, for some, so much is riding on whether they can excel in sports that it becomes an obsession, a desperate quest for a better life. But for most, even good players, they never make it past high school sports.

Sports are also fulfilling because they often include some of the best aspects of life – being creative, excelling, being part of a team, meeting constant challenges, being valued for what you enjoy. We see the same aspects in other areas of our lives – like when we play music together, when teams of scientists or doctors work together, when architects and engineers design a building, when students and teachers work together in a classroom – whenever we work or play together.

The chance to live fulfilling lives, to develop ourselves to the fullest, to be valued for who we are, to be part of a community of people who work together – these shouldn’t just be a rare opportunity for the lucky few.

When we live in a society that only sees us as dollar signs, to be used up and spit out, there is no chance at living fulfilling lives. Society should guaranteed that everyone has the chance to live fulfilling lives for our entire lives, so that we all have the opportunity to develop our talents to be athletes or doctors or musicians or artists or scientists or writers or anything or all of these things. That kind of world could be ours if we choose to fight for it. What are we waiting for?