When The Super Bowl Comes To Town

A San Francisco Police tactical unit officer patrols Super Bowl City in San Francisco.

The Super Bowl is approaching and for people living in the Bay Area, it has been difficult to ignore because it will be played in Santa Clara. Many people are excited to see the matchup of the Panthers against the Broncos. But unless we had thousands of dollars saved away for a ticket, we are probably not going to be watching the game at the stadium. For the rest of us, football fans or not, it’s our chance to spend time with friends and family.

Every year the Super Bowl continues to be the most watched television event in the United States. Companies are very aware of this huge audience. A 30 second advertisement during the Super Bowl now costs five million dollars. But behind the huge spectacle, there is a darker side.

We are supposed to be happy that this festival is here. Regardless of wherever the game is hosted, it is always the people of the region who foot the bill. San Francisco is expecting to spend over $4.8 million of taxpayers’ money on the Super Bowl. Why shouldn’t the NFL use some of its $10 billion annual profits to help cover these costs? This is like when billionaire Larry Ellison’s America’s Cup left taxpayers with a $11.5 million bill in 2013.

With the spotlight on San Francisco, city officials don’t want to be embarrassed by the widespread homelessness in the city. Last August, San Francisco’s Mayor Ed Lee said that homeless people would, “have to leave the street.” There have been reports of increased harassment from the police. Why are the poorest members of society expected to get out of the way for a game that only the richest can afford to attend? Contrary to what the media and politicians would like us to think, there is not a “homeless problem” in cities like San Francisco, there as an affordable housing crisis!

We are told that the Super Bowl will bring money into the region. But money for whom? When we look at all of the free advertisement for the NFL, all of the enormous amount of money to be made in hotels, restaurants, who really profits? How much will working people in the Bay Area even see?

The drive for profits goes beyond ripping us off to stage their spectacle. The price paid by the players is enormous! Football players suffer epidemic levels of brain damage and mental health issues. More than 100 concussion-related lawsuits have been filed against the NFL, because the league has not done enough to protect players from serious brain damage. The suicides of players such as Junior Seau, Andre Waters and Terry Long and now the movie, “Concussion”, have drawn attention to this epidemic.

A study conducted by Harvard researchers in 2011 found that the life expectancy of professional football players is between 55 and 59 years. While it is very easy to get carried away by the high salaries of professional athletes, like football players, it does not change the reality that they are seen as disposable by their team owners.

When the game is over, some players will walk away with championship rings and others may walk away with concussions. The homeless and poor will still be on the streets. The NFL owners will walk away with incredible profits; and taxpayers will get stuck with a massive bill.

While we shouldn’t forget all of this, the game can still be our opportunity to kick back from work, spend time with friends and family and watch the game.

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